Image: The University of WarwickEvery Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Paul Thornalley from Warwick Medical School. Thornalley and a team that discovered extracts from strawberries positively activate a protein in the human body called “Nrf2,” which is shown to increase antioxidant and other protective activities.

Q: What made you interested in studying the relationship between strawberries and heart health?

A:  This was part of an investigation into bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables that may help maintain good health.

Q: What are the future implications of your research and findings?

A: Our improved technology for screening health beneficial activities of fruits and vegetables may help develop healthy foods.

Q: What was the most surprising thing you found in your research?

A: Health beneficial responses from compounds in strawberries may last two-three days — longer than we had previously thought.

Q: What is the take home message of your research and results?

A: We can now progress towards making healthier food based on ability of components to induce particular gene expression linked to maintaining good health.

Q: What new technologies did you use in your lab during your research?

A: Our team used new reporter assay technology for assessing transcriptional responses. 

Q: What is next for you and your research?

A: [We are working to] advance our understanding of the regulation of protective gene expression by prospective components of novel functional foods.