Solis, Plants, and Consumers: Studying the Complex Relationship Between Food and Medicinal Plants and Human Health

October 9, 2023 @ 12:10 pm to 01:10 pm

Joshua Lambert, Penn State University

108 Wartik Laboratory
University Park

Research Summary:

A growing body of literature has demonstrated that secondary metabolites produced by food and medicinal plants can exert both positive and negative effects on human health. The relationship between plants and human health is complex and is influenced by factors including plant genetics, plant growth environment, production and post-harvest processing practices, and consumer genetics and lifestyle factors. While advances have been made in understanding various aspects of the relationship between plants and human health, these advances have often occurred in silos with limited interdisciplinary crosstalk. There is a need for greater disciplinary integration in research and student training efforts in the context of studying the relationship between plants and human health. The present seminar will cover results from studies on cocoa (Theobroma cacao), cloves (Syzygium aromaticum), and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) that serve as examples of the potential benefits of using a more integrated, interdisciplinary approach to examining the relationship between plants and human health.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Joshua D. Lambert is a professor in the Department of Food Science and a member of the Center for Molecular Toxicology and Carcinogenesis at Penn State University. Dr. Lambert received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Penn State University and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona. Dr. Lambert conducted post-doctoral research on cancer prevention in the Department of Chemical Biology at Rutgers University. Dr. Lambert’s research program studies the prevention of cancer and metabolic syndrome by phytochemicals in tea, cocoa, berries, and soy with a focus on developing fundamental efficacy and mechanism of action data using preclinical models of disease. In addition, his research group has examined the bioavailability and safety of alternative dosage forms of dietary components. A growing area of research for his lab is understanding the impact of factors such as plant genetics, growing environment, and post-harvest processing has on the chemistry and bioactivity of medicinal and food plants. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 16 book chapters. Between 2014 and 2017, Dr. Lambert was selected by Thomson Reuters for inclusion in The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. His research group has received funding from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the American Institute for Cancer Research, as well as various commodity boards and industrial partners.


Teh-hui Kao