Bindley Bioscience Center

Diet & Disease Prevention


rsch_csbThe organizational and intellectual infrastructure of the Bindley Bioscience Center provides a versatile platform for the systematic investigation of numerous dietary, disease and health related issues, including osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and inflammation. It also provides a stimulating environment for a dynamic and broad range of faculty to translate novel ideas into focus-driven discoveries in the diet, disease and health arena. With further development, this capacity will be scalable, allowing for rapid growth into priority areas as opportunities arise.

Molecular Biomarker Research

The complexity of both the chemical composition of foods and the body's molecular and physiological response to diet creates discovery challenges. The dynamic response and interaction of an organism's genome with its transcriptome, proteome, metabolome and ionome defines how a living system functions and progresses towards health or disease. Unraveling these interconnections and applying them to the prevention of disease and promotion of health is one of the great challenges in modern medical science.

Identification of disease and diet associated composite molecular biomarkers will facilitate identification of new molecular targets for development of novel therapeutic agents to address diet-related chronic diseases. In combination with emerging bio-chip technologies, such composite biomarkers for diet and health will also revolutionize the "wellness" economic sector. Biomarker technologies for identification of early signs of chronic disease, along with foods for its prevention, will allow prevention to become a commercially viable sector of the health industries.

Such readily available biomarkers for health and healthful foods will also drive the new and emerging sector of personalized health care. These drivers will promote the development of value-added agricultural crops and foods around the concept of prevention rather than cure. Such activities will engage and benefit the agricultural, food, pharmaceutical and health related economic sectors regionally, nationally and internationally.

Interdisciplinary Focus

The interdisciplinary research focus of Diet & Disease Prevention is designed to address the clearly articulated problem of reducing the epidemic of diet-related chronic disease in the United States through the application of Systems Biology. The system necessary to implement this focused effort requires a transdisciplinary team drawn from across the Purdue academic units and within Discovery Park, including researchers from Plant and Animal Sciences, Agriculture, Food Science and Nutrition, Comparative Medicine, Clinical Sciences, Pharmacy, Instrumentation Sciences, Computation and Information Processes, Library Sciences, Communications and Engineering. Such broad expertise is coalesced around four core programmatic areas:

  • Food Delivery Systems: Knowledge generation related to the manipulation of nutrients and phytochemicals in plant based foods through the application of plant genetics, agricultural practices and food processing. This system will allow for the development of new dietary components for discovery and learning within the Systems Biology approach. Furthermore, activities around this theme will provide engagement opportunities through improved diet, food processing and agricultural practices.
  • Nutrients and Phytochemicals: represents specific knowledge generation on the impact of dietary components on molecular systems and pathways within healthy model organisms or cell culture models.
  • Comparative Medicine: Comparative Medicine provides the experimental context in which these molecular discoveries are made, through the use of tissues, transgenic, and natural disease models and clinical studies.
  • Analytical and Cyber Infrastructure: At its heart, the Systems Biology of diet, disease and health requires sophisticated data mining environments built from statistical, modeling and visualization tools embedded in databases of quantitative and qualitative "omic" scale data and meta data. It is within such virtual environments that the complex, non-linear molecular pathways connecting diet to the physiological state of health or disease are uncovered. The development of such systems requires integration of computer science, mathematics, information management and communications to develop systems which not only provide powerful data reduction tools but also capture the intuitive research modalities utilized by biologists.

Each functionality is laterally integrated and, as a working whole, will deliver Systems Biology knowledge on the interconnections of diet, disease and health.

The first three programmatic themes are closely affiliated, and a high level of lateral integration is required to deliver quality Systems Biology data. Such integration is achieved by the involvement of multiple faculty with interlocking interests, from disciplines spanning all three themes, including Department of Food Science, Department of Horticulture, Department of Foods and Nutrition, Department of Animal Sciences, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.

Knowledge from these four programmmatic areas is iteratively fed back into the discovery and learning process. Furthermore, this environment acts as an engagement portal for the dissemination of knowledge to a broader community of students, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs.

Diet & Disease Executive Management Committee

The Diet & Disease Executive Management Committee provides the strategic vision, leadership and coordination of the development of the integrated biological, analytical and cyber infrastructure. Members include:

David E. Salt

Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Scientific Director for Genomics, Bindley Bioscience Center.

James Fleet

Distinguished Professor, Department of Nutrition Science.

Michael Gribskov

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences.

Joe Pekny

Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Director of e-Enterprise Center

James Mullins

Dean and Professor of Libraries.

Faculty Involvement

A diverse team of faculty with overlapping interests is involved with the Diet & Disease research area.

Department of Chemical Engineering
Joseph Pekny
Venkat Venkatasubramanian
Gary Blau

Department of Computer Graphics Technology
Gary Bertoline

Department of Statistics
Bruce Craig
Rebecca Doerge

Department of Agronomy
Rebecca Doerge
Lauren McIntyre

James Mullins
Scott Brandt

Department of Communications
Sorin Matei

Department of Biological Sciences
Michael Gribskov


Research That Affects Us All

  • 65 % of adults aged greater than or equal to 20 years of age in the United States are either overweight or obese.
  • Approximatley 280,000 deaths per year are estimated to be attributable to obesity.
  • Over 64 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of mortality in the United States - 38.5% of all deaths).
  • 50 million Americans are hypertensive.
  • 11 million have type 2 diabetes.
  • 37 million adults maintain high-risk total cholesterol concentrations (>240 mg/dL).
  • In post-menopausal women aged greater than or equal to 50 years of age, 7.2% have osteoporosis and 39.6% have osteopenia.
  • Osteoporotic hip fractures are associated with a 20% excess mortality in the year after fracture.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States (25% of all deaths), and an estimated one-third of all cancer deaths are due to nutritional factors, including obesity.

Interdisciplinary Themes

tmb Diet & Disease Prevention Drug Discovery/Delivery Nanomedicine Tissue & Cellular Systems

About Bindley

Interdisciplinary life sciences and engineering researchers collaborate to explore new technologies and scientific knowledge that impact the broad boundaries of plant, animal, and human diseases.


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Bindley Bioscience Center
1203 W. State Street
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2057