Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

November 04, 2003

New national food network to be housed at U of G

The University of Guelph is home to a new $22-million national network that will bring together a unique cohort of renowned scientists to advance the understanding of foods and materials worldwide, it was announced today.

U of G food science professor Rickey Yada will be the scientific director of the Advanced Foods and Materials Network, which will include some 87 Canadian researchers from the natural sciences, engineering, health sciences, social sciences and law. The network is part of the national Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, which fosters partnerships among university, government and public and private agencies.

The announcement was made in Guelph by Brenda Chamberlain, MP for Guelph-Wellington, on behalf of Industry Minister Allan Rock and by Tom Brzustowski, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and chair of the NCE steering committee. There are 21 networks across Canada, overseen by NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Industry Canada.

“The Advanced Foods and Materials Network will develop novel ideas in food safety, nutritional quality and human health,” said Brzustowski. “"It will boost Canada's capacity to create new knowledge in areas that are important for the public, provide intellectual stimulation for students and generate valuable intellectual property."

This is U of G’s first NCE and the only one in Canada focusing on food. Researchers across the country will examine the structure, texture, chemistry, esthetics and nutritional value of food and materials, as well as investigate issues related to regulations, policies, risk assessments and consumer attitudes. They will also provide and receive training aimed at helping them become the innovation leaders of tomorrow in industry, academia and government.

“The establishment of this network is both an incredible achievement and an outstanding opportunity for the University of Guelph,” said president Alastair Summerlee. “It’s an honour to be selected to host the centre and to play a role in training the future leaders of innovation. The network will play a vital role in enhancing public health and well-being.”

The network has three interrelated themes: structure, dynamics and function of food and materials; functional foods and nutraceuticals; and genetics, ethics, economics, environment and law. The goal is for researchers to work together to achieve improvements in areas such as novel materials, health maintenance and promotion, food quality and public confidence in the food supply. Participating researchers come from 29 universities, 32 industries and 29 government departments and organizations from Canada and abroad.

“Our approach will be synergistic and multidisciplinary,” said Yada, a U of G professor since 1984. “The network will join, for the first time, a large number of Canada’s most internationally recognized researchers who have not traditionally interacted. The resulting cross-pollination of ideas will result in innovation ranging from new science to novel products to enhanced communication of scientific and policy issues.”

Alan Wildeman, vice-president (research), added: “The ultimate goal of this centre is to ensure a pre-eminent role for Canada in advanced foods and biomaterials research worldwide. The network will bring the very best of Canadian scientific capacity together to do the research that will lead to new discoveries and new socially acceptable value-added products and processes.” He added the network will also benefit researchers working on projects with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food in agriculture and life sciences research and training, and that Yada brings strong research and leadership experience to the network.

Yada has served as chair of the Department of Food Science and as assistant vice-president (research, agri-food programs) and holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Food Protein Structure. His primary research focus is on structure-function relations of food-related proteins, work that is also supported by NSERC and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). He has been a member or chair of numerous NSERC awards panels and committees, served on various CFI panels and was a member of the Royal Society Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology. The author of more than 120 refereed papers, he served as editor-in-chief of the Food Research International Journal from 1992 to 1998, is the current North American editor of Trends in Food Science and Technology, is a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology and is a recipient of the Ontario Agricultural College’s Alumni Association Distinguished Researcher Award.

“My goal with the network is to set new directions and establish new interdisciplinary collaborations rather than provide researchers with opportunities to do more of the same,” Yada said.

Prof. Rickey Yada
Department of Food Science
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 58915

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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