Diane Birt, Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition, (515) 294-3011
Colin Scanes, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-5267
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa – The Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition is joining the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University. It becomes the ninth research center under the umbrella of the institute.

The Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition has been administered through the College of Family and Consumer Science and the food sciences and human nutrition department at ISU since 1990. Diane Birt, professor and chairman of the department, is director of CDFIN.

CDFIN faculty and scientists conduct interdisciplinary research to improve nutrition and promote good health through new and traditional foods. Research emphasizes improving human diets by enhancing the plant-based constituents and by improving feeding strategies of animals used for animal-based foods.

"A major emphasis for this center has been improving our understanding of the health impact of plant-based foods. Joining the Plant Sciences Institute will expand opportunities for collaborative, multidisciplinary research in this and other areas," Birt said. "The center's considerable strength in nutritional and food sciences can enhance interaction between university scientists and the food industry. We aim to translate the strong basic and applied science programs at ISU into new foods that promote optimal nutrition and well being."

Among the CDFIN research projects under way are studies to assess the impact of dietary soybeans on human health. These include identifying the components that reduce serum cholesterol and improve bone density and assessing factors that influence bioavailability of these agents. CDFIN researchers also are developing strategies for improving human foods through the genetic modification of plants.

"The center will be an exceptional addition to the institute," said Colin Scanes, interim director of the Plant Sciences Institute. "The research already under way at CDFIN is truly exciting and completely consistent with the mission and goals of the Plant Sciences Institute."

The Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University, which consists of nine research centers, is supported through public and private funding. Its goal is to become one of the world's leading institutes for plant science research, education and unbiased research-based information. Researchers are developing ways to help feed the growing world population, strengthen human health and nutrition, improve crop quality and yield, foster environmental sustainability and expand the uses of plants for biobased products and bioenergy.


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