Prof Bruce German

Lactation and milk as a model for scientific research and innovation on diet and health

Bruce German

Bruce German received his PhD from Cornell University, joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 1988, and in 1997, he was named the first John E. Kinsella Endowed Chair in Food, Nutrition and Health. He is currently Director of the Foods for Health Institute and Professor of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis. His research interests include the structure and function of dietary lipids, the role of milk components in food and health, and the application of metabolic assessment to personalising diet and health.

The goal of his research is to build the knowledge necessary to improve human health through personalised health measurements and foods. To that end, his research focuses on how individual human lipid metabolism responds to the chemical composition and structural organisation of foods. Each person has a slightly different response to diet, based on their genetics, their life stage and lifestyle, their metabolism and their nutritional status. Prof. German’s research seeks to understand the molecular basis of these differences and to learn how to measure them. Based on that, food strategies are designed, including analytical tools for individuals to monitor how their body reacts to various foods, so that they can modify their consumption to foster good health. With those health targets established, it is the equally important task of the researchers to understand how to provide superior food choices, which integrate the optimal compositional, structural and nutritional functionalities of biomaterials.

Human milk represents the perfect model for such research. As a product of millennia of constant Darwinian selective pressure, milk is the only bio-material which has evolved as a food which nourishes, sustains and promotes healthy infant mammals to grow and be healthier. As in all evolutionary processes, survival of the strongest offspring exerted powerful selective pressure on the biochemical evolution of lactation. New traits continued to appear in human milk to promote that strength, health, and ultimately survival. This evolutionary logic is the basis of Prof. German’s research program to discover physical, functional and nutritional properties of milk components, and to apply these properties as principles to foods.

Prof. German and colleagues have published more than 400 papers on lipids and food, metabolism and metabolite measurements and food functions, and they have patented numerous technologies and applications of bioactive agents.