Science Breakfast: The Chemistry of Food: Flavor and Beyond

hosted by Mars, Incorporated

Wednesday, 28 June 2017
07:00 - 08:45 CEST


Flavor — including odor and taste — is fundamental to how we experience all food, but recent research has suggested that odor and taste molecules within food have an unexpected biological effect on the body, beyond that of creating a flavor perception.

In this Science Breakfast hosted by Mars, Incorporated, Professor Aaron Ciechanover (2004 Nobel laureate in chemistry), Professor Thomas Hofmann (Technische Universität München) and a selected young scientist will discuss the presence of taste and aroma receptors in cells throughout the human body and the role they are playing in biological processes.

Thanks to increasingly sophisticated analytical methods such as liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometry, chemists are able to characterize the individual chemicals found in foods. We are now able to gain insight into the surprising way that volatile and non-volatile compounds combine to produce a perception of flavor in the brain. But, scientists are still just scratching the surface when it comes to our understanding of how these odor and taste molecules interact with the human body. Early studies suggest that flavor and aroma compounds may, in fact, be playing a role in modulating immune response.

The panelists will explore these latest discoveries in flavor chemistry and what these could mean for innovations in food chemistry, human health and personalized medicine. These innovations could enable scientists to edit breeding and harvesting processes to develop preferred flavor signatures and further explore the idea of foods that can positively impact human health.

07:00 – 07:30 Breakfast
07:30 – 08:40 Discussion

Professor Aaron Ciechanover is a biochemist and physician. In 2004 he was (jointly) awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. This made it possible to explain the cell control processes such as cell division, DNA repair, the mode of action of the immune system, and the way the cell maintains the quality of its proteins. His work has become an important platform for drug development, including a powerful anti-cancer drug, with others in development. Professor Ciechanover is a Distinguished Professor at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He is also a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and a member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities. At the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Professor Ciechanover will deliver a lecture on The Revolution of Personalized Medicine: Are we Going to Cure All Diseases and at What Price?

Professor Thomas Hofmann deciphers and re-engineers the combinatorial codes of odor/taste-active and taste modulating biomolecules creating the very authentic aroma and taste perception of foods and beverages, to utilize these codes as “molecular blueprints” to monitor process-induced changes in chemosensory profiles from the plant to the fork, to control breeding and post-harvest processing parameters towards the development of preferred flavor signatures, and to monitor the human metabolism of key flavor components. To achieve this, his research approach coined “Sensomics” combines approaches from advanced natural product chemistry, metabolomics, food engineering, human psychophysics, chemosensory receptor assays, and bioinformatics. Since 2007, he has been a professor at the newly established Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensors. He is also a member of the ZIEL Institute for Food and Health and Co-Director of the Bavarian Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry Center (BayBioMS). As chairman and coordinator of a European consortium, Professor Hofmann also successfully initiated the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) “EIT FOOD” of the European Institute of Technology (EIT) in 2016.

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