Scientist to present berry research

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

KANNAPOLIS — The director of N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis will reveal research findings on berries and their impact on human health next week at a global health conference.
Dr. Mary Ann Lila will present her research at the Berry Health Benefits Symposium June 27 in Westlake Village, Calif.
Lila, a world-renowned blueberry expert, will present “The Berry’s Enigma” at the nation’s largest gathering of berry researchers.
She recently appeared on the “Dr. Oz Show” to discuss cancer-fighting compounds found in berries and muscadine grapes.
“Although research has demonstrated significant links between berries and human health benefits, the actual bioactive compounds in the berries and how they protect human health have remained largely enigmatic,” Lila said.
Currently, Lila’s research at the Plants for Human Health Institute is aimed at identifying bioactive compounds – and understanding how they work – in fruits, like blueberries, that confer human health benefits.
She is particularly interested in compounds that could counteract chronic disease and promote endurance.
N.C. State and other universities at the Research Campus in Kannapolis are working to sequence the blueberry genome.
The campus is a public-private venture including eight universities, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the David H. Murdock Research Institute and private companies that collaborate to advance the fields of nutrition and health.
North Carolina grows about 8,000 acres of berries, like blackberries, blueberries, dewberries, raspberries and strawberries.
The berries bring more than $90 million into the state’s economy each year. Nationally, North Carolina ranks fourth in production of strawberries and sixth for blueberry production.
The Berry Health Benefits Symposium will focus on the fruit’s value to human health.