The central goal of this IRSDA career development award is to foster my ability to become an independent global health researcher and expert in the field of therapeutic plant applications. The proposed research on the use of Moringa oleifera to treat and prevent conditions related to chronic inflammation will serve as a platform for furthering my career, including new collaborations, improved grantsmanship and ability to coordinate a diverse team of international experts. This award will build upon my sound phytochemical/ biological skills and substantial international experience to advance my career and acquire new skills in needed areas. The proposed research will have important and relevant health outcomes in Kenya and the US, build research capacity in Kenya, and establish partners for future global collaborations. In order to fulfill my career development goals I have assembled an advisory team of mentors and co-mentors from Rutgers University, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and Kenyatta University. My team will help me achieve: (1) expertise in therapeutic plant production; (2) excellence in the evaluation of botanicals in biological systems; and (3) coordination of international interdisciplinary teams for integration o scientific research and global health development in impact-driven projects. Ilya Raskin will serve as my primary US-mentor, who has expertise in plant-based therapeutics, mentorship, and international collaboration. Dr. Jennifer Orwa will serve as my primary LMIC-mentor at KEMRI, where she leads the Center for Traditional Medicine Research, and has the expertise to guide my career development and research goals. All collaborating institutes are dedicated to utilizing phytochemicals in plants and foods to improve human health and are well-equipped to perform the research. Career goals 1 and 2 will bolster my technical skills, while goal 3 will overarch all aspects of my research and development. In addition I have two collaborators who will assist me in specific aims of the project, and one for my career development who will advise me through the Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Global Health degree program.

Public Health Relevance

Bioactive isothiocyanates produced in the leaves of Moringa oleifera can provide chemically stable, low-cost diet-based therapeutic agents, and serve practical alternatives to unstable and volatile isothiocyanates produced by cruciferous plants, such as broccoli. Moringa isothiocyanates have profound potential to reduce chronic inflammation associated with metabolic, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases around the world.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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International and Cooperative Projects - 1 Study Section (ICP1)
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Michels, Kathleen M
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University of California Davis
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United States
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Kim, Youjin; Wu, Alex G; Jaja-Chimedza, Asha et al. (2017) Isothiocyanate-enriched moringa seed extract alleviates ulcerative colitis symptoms in mice. PLoS One 12:e0184709
Tumer, Tugba Boyunegmez; Rojas-Silva, Patricio; Poulev, Alexander et al. (2015) Direct and indirect antioxidant activity of polyphenol- and isothiocyanate-enriched fractions from Moringa oleifera. J Agric Food Chem 63:1505-13