Associate Professor Uri Lesmes heads the Lab of Food Chemistry & Bioactives and the Food and Health Innovation Center, both in the Technion Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. He is also the academic leader of Israel’s pan-European accelerator network, aimed at promoting food entrepreneurs and startups. Concerned with healthy, affordable, and eco-friendly food choices, Prof. Lesmes works on the rational design of foods, personalized food solutions, and the safety of food additives. One such project is the EU-funded EAT4AGE, which seeks to develop palatable, easily digestible, nutrient-dense foods tailored to the needs of the aging population.
Prof. Lesmes is also experimenting with insects and algae to create high protein, sustainable food alternatives. He and his team have created ice cream made with silkworm pupae, falafel enriched with the eco-friendly nutritious algae spirulina, and meat hybrids fortified with by-products of agricultural crops. His research on food additives has centered on carrageenan, used widely to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods such as meats, yogurts, and nut milks. Employing bioreactors that mimic the human stomach and intestines, his research has found that long-term consumption of carrageenan, which has been considered safe, 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.