As a Post Doc Researcher at Washington State University, Xiaonan Lu and his colleagues made international headlines when they discovered that an organosulfur compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of human intestinal illness – a discovery that will open the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces.
“This was very exciting to me because it showed that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply,” said Lu.
Lu was appointed as Assistant Professor, Food Safety Engineering in January 2013. He joins our newly-expanded Food safety cluster that includes fellow Assistant Professor, Food Safety Engineering, Siyun Wang, and Kevin Allen, Assistant Professor, Food Microbiology.
“Our research areas are complimentary and interconnected,” he said. Lu’s own research calls on engineering, biophysics and chemistry as critical components of studying food safety, as complimentary to research works performed by food and molecular microbiology experts like Wang and Allen. He hopes to design several new types of nano-biosensors that can rapidly detect pathogenic bacteria and viruses in foods.
“The new nano-biosensors could tremendously decrease the detection or diagnostic time and also improve the sensitivity of the detection for those pathogenic biological agents in foods, a complicated matrix.” Lu is also interested in studying the virus/host cell interaction for a new type of vaccine design. He credits his work in WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine & School of Food Science for strengthening his background and research abilities.
“There’s always a connection between food safety and global animal health,” he said.
Beginning in 2014, Lu will teach a graduate level course on advanced food technology and analysis and an undergraduate level course on food analysis.