CoRE Research Programme: "Future Foods – Inspired by Nature"

The vision of the Riddet Institute CoRE research programme is “Future Foods – Inspired by Nature”. This means learning from the structures inherent in natural foods and how foods are digested and assimilated, to enable the creation of high-value healthy foods with novel structures.

We aim to achieve a fundamental understanding of:

  1. the assembly of food structures at different scales in natural and processed foods;
  2. the disassembly and reassembly of food structures during the stages of human digestion, including the liberation and absorption of nutrients and bioactive molecules;
  3. metabolic and physiological consequences in relation to human health.

Our research is multi-disciplinary and this is reflected in the expertise of our scientists who are drawn from a wide range of disciplines including: chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, materials science, biology, physiology, molecular biology, microbiology and nutrition.

The research comprises four interlinked research platforms – three platforms devoted to fundamental research and one to strategic integrative research. Each platform will generate new knowledge in its defined area, but investigators will also work across platforms to collectively contribute to the overall vision of the Riddet Institute.


Platform 1: Food Materials and Structures

This platform explores fundamental aspects of the assembly of the complex, hierarchical structures that have evolved in natural foods. These studies will then inform the modification of these structures during food-processing operations, and the behaviour of both natural and processed structures in the environments of the human oral cavity and GIT. There is a focus on quantifying the relationship between structural attributes and product functionality, in particular the dynamic aspects of release of nutrients and bioactive compounds.

Principal Investigators: Professor Harjinder SinghProfessor Geoff JamesonProfessor Juliet Gerrard, Professor Indrawati Oey

Platform 2: Gastrointestinal Interactions

This platform will shed light on the complex interactions between food, the gut microbiota, gastrointestinal motility, food breakdown, enzymatic digestion and the transport of digestive contents on nutrient uptake in humans. The platform will develop advanced mathematical and computational models of the human mouth, the GIT and the microbiota, in combination with novel experimental techniques and instrumentation required to study complex gastrointestinal dietary interactions.

Principal Investigators: Professor Paul Singh, Professor Peter HunterProfessor Paul MoughanDr Nicole Roy, Professor Gerald TannockDr John Monro

Platform 3: Metabolism and Nutrition

This platform will investigate how the delivery of nutrients from natural and processed foods influences metabolic outcomes. It will also include human intervention studies to examine the effects of food structure, rates of delivery of nutrients and bioactives and their interactions on metabolic cascades leading to obesity and the metabolic syndrome, and thus linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Use of genetic and phenotypic knowledge will be exploited to better understand the mechanisms of diet–health relationships, which can drive the design and development of novel foods and/or food processing technologies.

Principal Investigators: Professor Jim Mann, Professor Sally Poppitt, Professor Manohar Garg

Platform 4: Structuring Foods for Optimal Functionality and Health

Building on our previously established methodologies and utilising the fundamental knowledge from other platforms, this cross-disciplinary and integrative platform will investigate how structures with predetermined digestive behaviours can be assembled into food systems that are able to deliver the required in-body functionality. This will provide proof-of-concept in relating food structure dynamics and physiological outcomes within well-characterised food systems.

Principal Investigators: Professor Matt Golding