Food, Health & Medical Science & Technology

Our leading researchers in the Food and Health Cluster are delivering real-world impact in Food Science, Nutrition and Engineering. We drive innovation in the three interconnected research areas of health, food process engineering and sustainability.

Health

Our research is having an impact on public health by assessing population-wide nutrition status to identify gaps in infant nutrient intakes. Using linear programming and distinctive interventions, we address these gaps through evidence-based dietary approaches to improve nutritional status and policy development.

Part of our research involves analysing the complexity of various micronutrient forms to advance the fortification of food and bioavailability of nutrients in humans. Vitamins such as folate in foods and vitamin B-12 are tested using stable isotopes. Novel 2D and 3D ex-vivo cell culture models are used for measuring the bio accessibility, metabolism and absorption of nutrients and bioactives from food.

Our research is also focused on immunodiagnostics. We investigate what happens to food components at the molecular level when they go through various processing techniques and conditions. Our focus lies on how they interact with our gut immune system and how these interactions affect our overall health.

Our leading experts are also translating research into new treatment breakthroughs such as using ‘intelligent’ materials in targeting tumours and discovering new ways of monitoring health conditions in real-time.

We're innovating new and exciting technologies, including the development of colourimetric nanosensors for disease diagnosis, real-time chemical analysis of the gut microbiome and delivery of DNA into cells using magnetic nanoparticles.

We collaborate with colleagues across campus and external partners, including key healthcare organisations, to understand and address the key health needs of the nation.

Food Process Engineering

Our academics work across several disciplines including bioactive food components, food processing technologies and biotransformation of ingredients.

Applying our expertise in food safety applications, we innovate solutions for the detection and characterisation of microorganisms in food and for the biology, ecology and management of foodborne pathogens.

Our researchers are at the forefront of advanced particle engineering and drying technology research and they are working closely with industry to develop and improve powdered products particularly for food and dairy applications. This is complemented with our expertise in microrheology for the detection of very low yield stress in biological fluids. The technology is used for the analysis of bubble dynamics in complex fluids and to study bubble expansion and shrinkage.

Our interdisciplinary approach to research allows us to apply our expertise in water detoxification to the area of food. We use radio frequency and plasma technology to inactivate vegetative microorganisms in food membranes. With lower temperature and treatment times, this is a promising technology for the preservation of heat sensitive food products as well as liquid foods with enhanced organoleptic properties.

Finally, macromolecular chemistry at the interface of nanotechnology and bioorganic chemistry enables us to engineer new multifunctional and biocompatible materials for applications in drug delivery, nanomedicine and bio-catalysis.

Sustainability

We aim to position UNSW at the forefront of agri-food research in the country. Our teams are working on plant-based protein food materials, with a specific objective of full integration into the Australian food system.

With the goal to strengthen food security and to alleviate the agricultural burden on the environment, we're developing a broad research activity on cellular agriculture. Current food systems around the globe will not be able to provide sustainable food security, and rigorous scientific investigation is required to deliver innovation for agriculture and food industry.

We offer exciting PhD projects and scholarships to help attract the best minds to UNSW.

Academic & Research Staff in this Field