CEM Seminar - Bruce German

Bruce German, Metabolism and Milk

Bruce German, Professor, Food Science and Technology
Director, Foods for Health Institute 
University of California, Davis
Lactation and milk: A model for diet and health for all ages
Solving the problems of food production, food safety, nourishment and sustainability will require a much more detailed understanding of the complex interplay between human health and food. In effect agriculture must move from the simplifying reductionist principles of chemistry to the integrative principles of biology. As life sciences interrogate organisms in genomic detail, lactation and its remarkable product, milk provide unique insight into the evolution of animals and their food. Most organisms evolved in part to avoid being eaten. Agriculture’s success has been to select and process commodities into safe, stable and delicious foods. Agriculture’s challenge now is to enhance their nutritional quality and the question is how.

In parallel with discoveries of nutritional targets and component bioactivities are new insights into principles of sustainability. The complex competition between maternal cost and infant benefit for milk’s resources are a vivid model for cost versus benefit relationships. Mothers literally recruit a unique group of bacteria to populate their baby’s intestine and provide them a selective food source, complex oligosaccharides, to keep them and their baby ‘healthy and happy’.

Dr. German's laboratory group focuses on research seeking to understand how to improve foods and their ability to deliver improved health. The model being used to pave the way toward improving the health benefits of foods is milk, which evolved to make healthy mammals healthier. Dr. German is also interested in personalized health and research is developing the means to understand how individual human lipid metabolism responds to the lipid composition of diets.