Associate Professor Uri Lesmes is Group Leader of the Lab of Food Chemistry & Bioactives and head of the Food and Health Innovation Center, both in the Technion Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. He is also associated with the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.
Prof. Lesmes’ research focuses on using technology to improve diets and enhance nutrition. His lab is equipped with bioreactors that mimic the human stomach and intestines, to provide a better understanding of the digestive fate of foods for different populations.
Concerned with the looming global food crisis, Prof. Lesmes is experimenting with insects and algae to create high protein, sustainable food alternatives. He and his team have created ice cream made with silkworm pupae, falafels enriched with the eco-friendly nutritious algae spirulina, and meat hybrids fortified with by-products of agricultural crops. He also investigates the safety of food additives. Currently, that work centers on carrageenan, used widely to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods such as meats, yogurts, and nut milks. While carrageenan has been considered safe, his research has found that long-term consumption can have adverse digestive effects on infants, toddlers, and the elderly.
Prof. Lesmes earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the Technion. Prior to joining the Technion faculty in 2010, he was a visiting scholar in the Food Microbial Sciences Unit at the University of Reading in England, and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.