Elite researcher appointed professor at the Department of Food Science

Hanne Christine Bertram has been appointed professor in food metabolomics at the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University.

2016.02.01 | Nina Hermansen

Hanne C. Bertram has an honourable career behind her – where she already at the age of 30 was awarded the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s major EliteForsk prize. Since then, she has received, amongst others, the Danisco Award and is one of the most cited and published researchers in her field. Photo: Lars Kruse/AU

Why are some foods healthier than others and what is the connection between a food, its characteristics and its nutritional value? These are some of the questions that the former Senior Researcher Hanne Christine Bertram has been studying during her career.

Since 1 January 2016 she has been working at the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University as a professor in food metabolomics and is thus helping to strengthen the department’s already strong position in advanced food analysis.

Hanne C. Bertram has an honourable career behind her – where she already at the age of 30 was awarded the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s major EliteForsk prize. Since then, she has received, amongst others, the Danisco Award and is one of the most cited and published researchers in her field, which is part of the reason why she at the age of only 39 can now also write professor on her CV.

- I’m very happy and very honoured to receive such a distinguished title. Much of the success I have achieved is attributable to the colleagues and students I am working with, and who collectively ensures that we have a unique team within food metabolomics in our department, says Hanne C. Bertram, who will be attached to the research group working with differentiated and biofunctional foods.

What is metabolomics?

The essence of food metabolomics is that it involves an untargeted analysis of the levels of various molecules (metabolites) in, for example, urine and blood samples to explore how the body responds to the intake of specific foods and thus gain insight into what it means to your health.

Hanne C. Bertram has played a crucial role in this research by her active involvement in the introduction  of a specific method of analysis –so-called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)  – in food research:

- Instead of analysing  a sample for a single specific metabolite, we can use the NMR method to simultaneously detect a whole range of metabolites. What is unique  is that we are not limited in  having  to know in advance what we're looking for, explains Hanne C. Bertram, adding that the introduction of NMR and food metabolomics has resulted in a new approach to food analysis:

- It’s a more holistic approach, which improves our possibilities for deciphering the connection between the content of certain substances in food and the body's metabolisation of these substances.

From meat to milk

The newly minted professor originally started her career in meat research, where NMR was also a key word. Her work in this area resulted in groundbreaking insight into how the ability of meat to retain intrinsic water depends on basic physiological, chemical and bio-physical factors, and also how it is affected by the slaughtering process.

Although Hanne C. Bertram is still active in meat research, her repertoire of food products has expanded to include a broader spectrum of animal proteins. One of the areas that has taken up a lot of her time in recent years is dairy products. Hanne C. Bertram has been part of  a team of researchers that have studied the mechanisms explaining why dairy products appear to have a weight-regulating effect. The new professor will continue on this track in the future and expects to look even more closely into the role that  the activity of the gut microflora plays in nutrition and health.

- Over the years we have extended the application of metabolomics to faecal matter, which is an excellent tool for analysing and understanding how the interaction between our diet and the gut microbial  activity affects our health, says Hanne C. Bertram.

At the Department of Food Science, the Head of Department Michelle Williams is very pleased with Hanne C. Bertram’s appointment as a professor.

- Hanne C. Bertram is a true star researcher and a pioneer in her field. She has also worked closely with leading food companies, and I am delighted that in her capacity as a professor she can strengthen our department’s continued cooperation with the national and international food industry, says Michelle Williams.


 

Further information

Professor Hanne Christine Bertram
Department of Food Science
Email: hannec.bertram@food.au.dk
Telephone: +45 8715 8353

Head of Department Michelle Williams
Email: mw@food.au.dk
Telephone: + 45 8715 7957/87158 335
Cell: + 45 2517 0049

Food, DCA