IFR’s research is structured around two BBSRC-funded Institute Strategic Programmes; Food and Health and Gut Health and Food Safety. The IFR research programme can be divided into six interconnected elements:
Food and Health
The aim of IFR’s Food and Health research is to improve our understanding of how bioactive compounds found in plant-based foods, as well as the structure of food itself, may maintain health or prevent disease. Our research aims to generate the very best evidence of how bioactives work and affect processes in the human body, to ultimately improve nutritional and functional properties of foods, diets and crops to benefit public health.more +
Food Safety Centre
We investigate how bacteria survive and multiply in the food chain and how they evade our defences to cause disease. This knowledge is needed for the development of a secure food chain with a safe supply of food for all, and to address the burden of foodborne illness. Complex data sets are analysed using systems biology and network analysis methods to better understand increasingly large amounts of data on foodborne bacteria and food safety.more +
Our research is aiming to answer a fundamental question of how the physical, chemical and immunological barrier of the gut wall is maintained through life and how failure can lead to disease. We aim to understand how we learn to tolerate the barrage of food-derived antigens whilst mounting an effective defence against pathogens, and the role resident gut microbes play in processes that are crucial to health.more +
Industrial biotechnology & exploitation of agri-food waste
Our aim is to take a variety of plant-based waste from the food chain and turn it into valuable products including bioethanol and platform chemicals, so improving the environmental and economic sustainability of the food chain.more +
National Collection of Yeast Cultures
The National Collection of Yeast Cultures is one of the largest yeast collections in the world, making it a valuable resource for academics as well as industry. In addition to preserving and understanding biodiversity, NCYC is using state-of-the-art techniques to characterise yeast strains for brewing and baking.more +
Food Databanks manages data on the composition of foods eaten in the UK. As well as providing the nutritional information for food labelling, this data underpins research at the IFR, across Europe and beyond, supporting evidence-based research into into the links between diet and health. This data also helps to inform government policy to promote a healthier lifestyles.more +
The Analytical Sciences Unit (ASU) provides IFR with state-of-the-art platform technologies (NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and a range of hyphenated techniques: LC-MS, GC-MS). It offers associated expertise in statistics, chemometrics and microscopy (electron, two-photon, and infrared). Working with colleagues, the ASU contributes to a diverse range of projects spanning the institute’s science portfolio. Its own research activities are focus on the development of novel approaches for characterising foods and ingredients using chemical profiling techniques, for tackling issues such as authentication and compositional analysis.more +
IFR scientists collaborate with partners on the Norwich Research Park, allowing a multi-disciplinary approach to research. IFR also has strategic relationships with UEA, University College London and works widely with universities, research institutes and the food industry in the UK, across the EU and around the world.
Carrying out IFR's research mission is the responsibility of Research Leaders, who lead small focused groups and host postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students.
The primary output from IFR research is peer-reviewed papers, which can be found in IFR’s Scientific Publications Library. IFR publishes extensively in the scientific literature. In 2013, an analysis of IFR’s publications over the previous past 5 years found that 459 scientific papers with an impact factor greater than 2.5 have been published by IFR researchers in 150 leading journals. These papers have been cited over 35,000 times, an average of 17.95 citations per publication.