Pursuing protein and peels for human health and planetary benefit
The IIFH Grad Innovator Fellowship provides candidates with the opportunity to tackle real-world challenges using their technical expertise to explore successful venture capital investment in research, breakthroughs and startups. This spring, Paul Kasemsap and Xingzhu Wu will join FoodShot Global and The March Fund respectively to gain first-hand experience on what it takes to succeed, then apply that knowledge to develop and de-risk their own potential innovations in protein sustainability, and nutritional supplements. Applications for upcoming fellowships open quarterly (remote as needed): https://foodaghealth.solutions
Working against the climate clock on creative protein solutions
Pornpipat “Paul” Kasemsap has always had a passion for optimizing agricultural systems. As a PhD candidate in Horticulture and Agronomy with Dr. Arnold Bloom at UC Davis, he has come to understand the complexity of food production. Along the way Kasemsap’s higher education journey provided many opportunities to explore food production in diverse regions of the world such as Thailand, the Netherlands, and then California. Now he combines the different fields of genetics, crop physiology, and agricultural management to optimize plants as a food source.
As a Fulbright Scholar pursuing research in international collaborative environments, Kasemsap is well positioned to develop solutions for the grand challenge of feeding tomorrow’s global population with today’s limited resources. He believes that working with FoodShot Global as a 2020 Innovator Fellow is an essential step toward this ambitious goal. Kasemsap will join the investment platform in advancing a Precision Protein System, where science, technology, investment and innovation are deployed across protein sectors to deliver the maximum benefits to human and planetary health while minimizing resource inputs. “Of course, there is no single solution,” he says. “We need to exchange knowledge across different approaches, and then I am hopeful of democratizing access to sufficient, nutritious protein at a global scale.”
FoodShot is a collaborative investment platform of innovators, investors, industry leaders and advocates working to empower bold ideas and innovative companies that accelerate the transformation to a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system. FoodShot’s integrated capital continuum awards over $500K in non-dilutive funding via the GroundBreaker Prize, as well as up to $10M of equity or debt investment for innovative businesses. Kasemsap’s experience working with agronomists, breeders, plant physiologist and geneticists will help explore improvements to protein nutrition and sustainability in pursuit of FoodShot’s plans for better human, animal, societal, and planetary health outcomes – including considerations for crops, seafood, meat, and emerging alternative proteins like algae, mushrooms, and cell-based meat.
This aligns with Kasemsap’s human health focus on nutritional solutions to come from future food crops, which will have to be adapted to anticipated climate conditions. Kasemsap and his research colleagues are concerned that expected atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations over the coming decades will have a negative influence on global food and nutrition security by interfering with a plant’s ability to assimilate nitrate into protein. As a consequence, the protein content of food crops may decrease by as much as 15% as CO2 continues to rise.
“Scientists are getting better at communicating their findings to the public. But communication is a two-way interaction. In order to meet global food challenges, we need the public to be engaged and responsive to the issues at hand.” — Paul Kasemsap, 2020 IIFH-FoodShot Innovator Fellow
Empowering Nutrition Accessibility with Fruit-based Dietary Supplements
Reducing waste and improving health with innovative new products
Depending on the variety, peels can account for up to 50% of a fruit’s weight and usually go unutilized, but the potential health benefits from peels include obesity control and the possible amelioration of cardiovascular diseases. As a PhD candidate with Dr. Zhongli Pan in Biological System Engineering at UC Davis, Xingzhu Wu creates sustainable dietary supplements from fruit peels that would otherwise be waste by-products from fruit and juice consumption. He is fascinated by research into food processing and plant-based bioactive compounds, and specifically focuses on pomegranate antioxidants and fibers.
The extracted pomegranate products constitute more than 10% of the peel by weight via an efficient and environmentally sound extraction process. Their ability to aid body weight management and liver lipid metabolism under standard high fat western diets has now been proven. Antioxidant-based fortified foods have also been developed to improve nutrient consumption among health-conscious consumers, including Greek-style yogurt and whole wheat bread. Scalable plant-based supplements and related fortified foods seem viable as nutritional enhancements to cope with the increasing demand for dietary improvements.