ScD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2004
MS, University of Maryland, 1978
I am a nutritional biochemist with broad training and extensive background in plant physiology, human nutrition, phytochemistry and nutritional biochemistry. I run the Phytochemistry Laboratories at Johns Hopkins Medical School, part of the Cullman Chemoprotection Center where we are developing plant-based chemoprotective agents. My current research addresses the induction by phytochemicals, of cytoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant responses in mammalian systems. This work draws on elements of natural product chemistry, enzymology, nutritional epidemiology and clinical research to develop nutritional strategies for chronic disease prevention in humans. Many of these studies deal with the glucosinolates and isothiocyanates that are found primarily in cruciferous vegetables and in a nutritious tropical tree called the drumstick tree or Moringa oleifera. Other work focuses upon a variety of flavonoid and phenolic secondary metabolites from ginseng, honey, ginger, ashwagandha, black cohosh, and other plants. We discovered that broccoli sprouts are an exceptionally rich source of inducers of the enzymes that detoxify carcinogens, (PNAS 94:10367-10372) and developed techniques to detect these inducers and assess their metabolism in humans. More recently, I determined that one of these inducers (sulforaphane) has potent antibiotic activity against Helicobacter pylori, a causative agent of peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer (PNAS 99:7610-7615); and I have just discovered that sulforaphane inactivates urease (a major pathogenesis factor of this bacterium) by an apparently independent mechanism. I have developed, characterized, and supplied preparations rich in specific phytochemicals for a large number of animal and clinical studies in which I have played an integral collaborative role.
In addition to my research, I teach graduate courses in both the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine. Before joining the Hopkins faculty in 1993, I spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry and held senior management positions in agricultural biotechnology research and process development. My work there focused primarily on plant cell culture, plant-microbe interactions, seed physiology, and related aspects of the biology of food crops.