Retaking the Field, Vol. 3


Retaking the Field: Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health is a collaborative report from eleven universities and the SoAR Foundation.  The report — the third in SoAR’s series — explores the success of research projects funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grants program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It is part of SoAR’s broader education and advocacy initiative to encourage additional federal support for food and agricultural research.

This issue examines how scientists are solving challenging and critical public health issues related to zoonotic diseases, nutrition, and food safety. From controlling drug-resistant bacteria to improving gut health, “Retaking the Field” tells stories about exciting advances and innovative research in the animal and plant sciences from Colorado State University, Cornell University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, University of California, Davis, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and University of Wisconsin – Madison

We welcome your feedback as well as your help in spreading the word about this new report. To access a full electronic copy, click here.

Research Success Stories


Banishing Bad Bacteria: Controlling E. Coli To Protect Poultry and People

Dr. Mellata and her team’s project focuses on improving food safety by reducing harmful bacteria in poultry products. Its major goals are: 1) advance our understanding of the zoonotic risk of ExPEC (extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli) infections from chickens; and 2) develop and evaluate a vaccine for chickens to protect them and humans against ExPEC and Salmonella infections. Continue reading… 



Sequencing Solutions: Revolutionizing Understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance with Genome Analysis

Antimicrobial resistant-microbes (AMRs) pose a serious threat to public health. AMRs are found in people, animals, food, and the environment. They spread from animals to people, and from person to person. Continue reading… 



Fighting for the Future: Mitigating Antimicrobial Resistance Through Better Stewardship

Antibiotics have been prescribed for people and animals at rates that have encouraged bacteria to expand resistance. If this trend continues, life-saving antibiotics may be ineffective in the future. Continue reading… 



Influencing Inflammation: Boosting Gut Health to Help Obese Adults

Inflammation is a major cause of health problems. When gut bacteria (microbiome) are out of balance, our protective intestinal barrier is disrupted, leading to an inflamed intestinal tract and the release of toxins into the body. Continue reading… 



Defending Diabetics: Developing Flavonoid-Enriched Foods to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes and more than 80 million American adults have prediabetes. In 2015, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, claiming around 80,000 lives. Continue reading… 



Helping Hearts: Discovering the Impacts of Flavonoids and Interpersonal Gut Variations to Improve Cardiovascular Health

The American Heart Association notes a recent study that showed millions of people worldwide could prevent early deaths and disability from heart disease by eating more fruits and vegetables. Some health benefits associated with this diet are derived from pigments present in plants called flavonoids. Continue reading…



Treasuring Thiamin: Optimizing Vitamin B1 Delivery in Food Products

In 1889, a physician studying beriberi (now called thiamin deficiency) discovered that the disease disappeared when people replaced white rice with whole-grain rice. It was later discovered that vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, is contained in the rice husks that are removed by the milling process. Continue reading…



Valuing Vegetables: Investigating Broccoli to Improve Gut Health

Why is broccoli healthy for you? Dr. Perdew explains that all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower) contain an organic chemical compound called “indole glucosinolates.” When that compound is digested in the stomach, it breaks down into other compounds, including indolo[3,2b]carbazole (ICZ). Continue reading…



Thinking Tiny: Blocking Pathogenic Bacteria With Nanoengineered Surfaces

Foodborne illnesses can be caused by food coming in contact with bacteria on surfaces in food-processing plants, restaurants, and households. When enough bacteria congregate, they create a “biofilm” that glues them to the surface. Continue reading…



Safeguarding Salad: Reducing Cross-Contamination in Fresh Produce Processing

Dr. Nitin and his team are discovering multiple techniques to minimize cross-contamination, which is a leading cause of foodborne outbreaks in fresh produce. Continue reading…



Targeting Troublemakers: Enhancing Dry Food Safety with Pasteurization Technologies

Salmonella is a formidable foe in low-moisture foods (e.g., peanut butter, nut snacks, pet foods, milk powder, dried fruits, flour, cereals). Recent outbreaks and recalls due to Salmonella in low-moisture foods make processing solutions essential to ensure the microbial safety of these products. Continue reading…