June 21, 2022
Food is precious, both for nutrition and as a supplier of valuable healing substances. How can food production leftovers or plant residues be put to better use? How can the curative power of some plants and fruit and vegetable varieties be activated for humans, for example in the form of new medicines? Scientists at Jacobs University have been researching questions like these for a long time, across disciplines and often in cooperation with companies. One of them is microbiologist Professor Matthias Ullrich, who has now been elected to the Board of Directors of the Bremen Food and Drink Association (NAGeB).
Many natural substances have an antibacterial and antiviral effect. This also applies to plants, such as coffee, quince or rhododendron. Together with Nikolai Kuhnert, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Professor Ullrich is working on developing a new, environmentally friendly disinfectant extracted from the raw waste created during the processing of these plants. The project is being carried out in cooperation with the Bremen-based companies "ProPure - Protect" and "Just in Air." In another project, they are investigating the antimicrobial capabilities of brewery waste, which is of interest to the food industry.
Kuhnert and Ullrich have also been researching on rhododendrons as a source of new antibiotics for a long time. The same goes for the health effects of tea, coffee and cocoa, or even kale. The fact that even banana peels of a certain kind are suitable for wound healing has been proven by another research project at Jacobs University. The research group led by Professor Kuhnert identified 70 different ingredients that could be responsible for wound healing.
Showing that research helps solve practical problems is important to Ullrich – as is the collaboration with researchers from various disciplines on the Jacobs University campus. In addition to Kuhnert, they include systems biologist Professor Marc-Thorsten Hütt. According to Ullrich, microbiology has developed into a problem-solving science that interacts with many other disciplines and enables the transfer of knowledge to society.
"By further processing waste from food production, we create a kind of circular effect and could contribute to reducing waste in the food industry in the long term," said Ullrich, describing the synergy effect of the cooperation between science and industry.
From now on, Ullrich will also contribute his expertise to the NAGeB as a board member. Its other members are: Rainer Frerich-Sagurna (Chairman of the Board), Thomas Tanck (CSM Deutschland), Oliver Schmidt (B-Grashoff Nachf.), Henry Lamotte (Henry Lamotte Food), Martin Schüring (ttz Bremerhaven), Karin Lang (Sonnentracht), Birgit Kunz (Bildungswerk der Niedersächsischen Wirtschaft) and Sohrad Mohammad (Reishunger).
Stephan Kuhlmann | Project Management Research and Transfer
Tel: +49 421 200 4145 | s.kuhlmann [at] jacobs-university.de