Happier, Healthier, Longer Lives For Everyone
The economic, social, and environmental impacts of the food system are being disrupted by a new generation of technologies reimaging the relationship between food and human health. While much attention recently has been focused on the possibilities presented by “alternative” food ingredients, this will likely be eclipsed in both value and impact by the food and health transformation. An increasingly informed consumer is a key stakeholder and decision maker who will seek benefits for themselves and their families, and in turn, drive disruption across food and health systems.
New records are constantly being set for foodtech investment, but much of the new wave of discovery in food and health has not yet made it in into the marketplace. As is typically the case with new scientific discoveries, there is a gap between the basic research that creates new insights, and the development of technology, tools and companies which translate these insights into products and services used by people every day to live happier, healthier, longer lives.
The Institute aims to – with its partners – bridge this gap between research and commercialization by facilitating innovation through programming in three key program areas: Use-Inspired Research, Talent Development, and Market Discovery.
As a scientist with 10 years of research experience, Dr. Abrieux developed an expertise in insect physiology, molecular biology and genetics to tackle problems related to crop production sustainability and food security by translating basic research into applied solutions. With a profound interest for the development of innovative approaches in biotechnology he is now using his scientific skillset to position IIFH at the center of meaningful and engaging conversations at the nexus of food and health.
Having led technology, finance and healthcare teams in large corporations, small-businesses, start-ups and private equity groups for more than 15 years, Mary is well-poised to manage IIFH administrative systems, as well as provide operational support to the team. Mary’s experience and passion allow her to uniquely align IIFH processes into actionable outputs that support uncommon collaborations to address global nutritional challenges.
With over 15 years of research expertise in glycobiology, biotechnology, and bioanalytical mass-spectrometry, Dr. Barboza leads the use-inspired research portfolio in food and health focused on collaborations between industry and academic experts. Positioning IIFH as a leader at the nexus of food and health innovation, Dr. Barboza employs her experience running groundbreaking, multi-disciplinary research programs focused on elucidating the structure and functional roles that glycoconjugates, metabolites, and food play in key biological processes such as diet-microbiota-gut-brain interactions in health and disease.
Kim’s passion is in working with scientific experts to together solve the world’s most pressing health issues. In addition to her role at IIFH, Kim serves as Chair of Research on the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She has also created several executive education programs at UC Berkeley and served on the board of the Haas School of Business. Prior to this, she ran several business incubators, founded and sold her own technology company, and did a three year stint in Lithuania with the Agency for International Development. Kim has a BS from Wharton and an MBA from UC Berkeley. As a leading female CEO, she has been featured in five books and has appeared on the cover of US News & World Report.
Rene is a recent UC Davis graduate, having earned his B.S. in cognitive science with a computational emphasis and double minor in economics and technology management. Looking forward, he wishes to pursue his M.B.A. degree, combining computer science and data analysis with business administration. Motivated to expand his knowledge and eager to drive results, Rene brings a valuable perspective to the team and is well-positioned to help IIFH build systems driving innovation in food and health.
Dana Armstrong Hughes
Working to develop a vibrant talent development pipeline for IIFH, Dana draws on a diverse background in regional food bank research and logistics, international agricultural development, student advising and mentorship, and global academic programs coordination. Dana works collaboratively with academic students, faculty and staff, and industry partners to build robust programs training the next generation of food and health business leaders.
Veronica draws on diverse experience organizing and hosting regional events and outreach to provide management support for complex institute initiatives. Her administrative strengths facilitate the strategic engagements and face-paced schedule of the Faculty Director, and his team of research scientists. Previously on campus, Veronica worked with the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Continuing & Professional Education, and the Davis Humanities Institute.
Driven to manage and develop impactful communication campaigns, Marissa draws on a diverse background in strategic communication, brand management and graphic design for local and statewide organizations. Through innovative approaches to design, marketing, social media, web and events, Marissa creatively explores IIFH’s unique place among uncommon collaborators from academia, government, non-profits, industry and investors.
Justin B. Siegel
As a UC Davis Associate Professor in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Dr. Siegel’s scientific focus is the design and discovery of enzymes relevant to issues in modern society – from treating Celiac disease to optimizing biofuel production and food system sustainability. As the IIFH Faculty Director, he works with academic and industry groups in building a vibrant translational research ecosystem across the food sector.
Fueled by his passion to bridge the gap between science and society, Visakan is highly motivated to manage multi-disciplinary projects with the Institute’s academic and industry partners. Pairing his experience as a project manager in the UK government and charity sector along with his diverse educational background, Visakan is well positioned to drive the success of the Institute’s world-class research programs.
Working to reimagine health and food, Wesley serves as the Executive Chair of Institute, connecting investors and companies with cutting-edge health insights and food technologies. He is also partner at Cornucopian Capital, a private capital firm making pre-seed and seed investments in metabolic health and chairs Barnstorm, a company foundry. He has worked at the World Economic Forum, Walmart, Mars, USAID, and NASA; and has experience in retail, food manufacturing and marketing, public health, science policy, and economics.