Gut Health Theme, Rowett Institute,
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition
University of Aberdeen
AB25 2ZD UK
Madi studied biochemical engineering (1995-2000) at the University Babes-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, followed by a MSc in bio-catalysis (2000-2001) from same University and a PhD in Natural Products Chemistry and Biotechnology (2001-2006). After the PhD years spent with prestigious fellowships in several European Universities(Finland, Belgium, Spain), she specialised on functional food development in both academia and industry. Madi has contributed to the compilation of dossiers for successful ESFA-approved health claims. She received funding from the Scottish Government (2012-2016) to investigate the potential for sustainable and healthy high-protein ingredients. This work was followed by another Governmental funding (2016-2022) programme focussing on developing technologies for designing specialised functional foods exploring the potential of high protein crops such as hemp and buckwheat for T2D prevention/maintenance. Her work translates key findings from human studies into bioactive-formulations, functional foods/ingredients using a zero-waste approach, contributing to a circular nutrition and a greener economy. Madi recently has been responsible for product development in a GCRF grant with Malawi (2017-2020) which, has contributed to bring a scientifically proven, patented fair-trade nutraceutical product closer to market. Currently, Madi is leading a five-year Scottish Government funded research programme (2022-2027) on hemp a carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly crop for diet biodiversification in Scotland. Madi’s work involves working across industry and academia for the promotion and understanding of the chemistry and biology underpinning all aspects of food science. She actively participates in knowledge exchange activities, specifically raising public awareness of the importance of consuming plant-based foods, being recently awarded (2020) The Principal Excellence Prize on Public Engagement with Research.
Member of “The Royal Society of Chemistry”
Nutritional Content, Phytochemical Profiling, and Physical Properties of Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) Seeds for Promotion of Dietary and Food Ingredient BiodiversityCrops, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 287-305Contributions to Journals: Articles
Buckwheat, Fava Bean and Hemp Flours Fortified with Anthocyanins and Other Bioactive Phytochemicals as Sustainable Ingredients for Functional Food DevelopmentNutraceuticals, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 150-161Contributions to Journals: Articles
Bound galloylated compounds in persimmon upcycled dietary fiber modulate microbial strains associated to human health after in vitro digestionLWT, vol. 156, 113011Contributions to Journals: Articles
Coated Food Product For Controlled Release And Improved PerformancePatents: Patents
Consumption of a Recommended Serving of Wheat Bran Cereals Significantly Increases Human Faecal Butyrate Levels in Healthy Volunteers and Reduces Markers of InflammationRecent Progress in Nutrition, vol. 1, no. 4Contributions to Journals: Articles
Prizes and Awards
- Principal’s Excellence Award for Public Engagement with Research (2020)
- Mars Award for Polyphenol Research, International Polyphenols Conference
- Identify novel crops, suitable to grow in Scotland, which can provide sustainable sources of nutrients and establishing their nutritional and phytochemical profile. Currently, my work involves crops like: buckwheat, hemp, potato bean (Apios Americana).
- Assess the nutritional and health impact of food crops on humans through running acute and chronic human dietary intervention studies, acquiring crucial information on their key bioactives bioavailability and metabolism.
- Understand the bioavailability, metabolism and bioactivity of dietary bioactives: my research focuses on:
-determination the form and concentration of key dietary metabolites following the consumption of plant based foods.
-ex vivo assessment of plant bioactive metabolites bioactivity at nutritionally relevant concentrations and forms.
-developing methods of synthesis, measuring and isolating of biomolecules from diets and their metabolites from human biological samples.
- Translate key nutritional research findings into specialised food formulations/ingredients and novel foods:
-design of biological active food formulations, and functional foods to prevent or aid metabolic disorders. This can support claims for a range of diverse health promoting products.
-industry engagement to address demand and find solution to reformulate existing foods for better nutritional profile and/or to reduce food and agricultural by products/waste though developing novel foods while contributing to zero-waste processes, a greener economy and a circular nutrition.
I am currently accepting PhDs in Nutrition and Health.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.
Nutrition and HealthSupervising
Hemp: a climate resilient crop for the future of Scottish agriculture (2022-2027) The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan includes reference to carbon sequestration options for agriculture. Hemp has a great capacity for carbon sequestration, contributing to a greater biodiversity, land recovery and remediation. Therefore, could play a role in the development and expansion of a low carbon, environmentally responsible industry, bringing a new ‘cash-crop’ to Scottish agriculture. Emerging hemp industry has an innovative opportunity being part of the solution to contribute and to give scope for GHG removal activities to the farmers and to increase the agriculture diversity. The research project aims to support hemp as a climate resilient food crop that promotes biodiversity, green economy and therefore climate change by: i) Stimulate the Scottish farming sector to run GHG removal activities; ii) Identify opportunities for the Scottish food and drink sector to promote sustainability and iii) Understand nutrition sufficiency and consumer acceptance of hemp food as part of low carbon footprint diet.
Revalorising agricultural and food by-products:
Hemp: Examining the potential for reducing and revalorising waste in the hempseed food chain as part of the circular economy (2021-2024). A project co-funded by the Good Hemp UK - a partnership initiated through an MRC Proximity to Discovery Industry Engagement Fund (P2D) grant - and CONACYT, the Mexican Council for Science & Technology; aimed to revalorise co-products from hemp food industry and deliver novel functional food products.
Fava bean: The UK is the largest producer of broad bean in Europe. This leads to important amounts of by-products such as hulls which are largely discarded. Valorising this material as food represents an opportunity to reduce food waste, to contribute to a circular nutrition. To understand the bean hulls’ nutritional (and health) potential involves assessing the way our body metabolise the nutrients and bioactive molecules after we eat the bean hulls.
Buckfood Project. The current work has a strong focus on developing technologies for designing specialised functional foods exploring the potential of high protein crops (i.e. buckwheat, hemp) for T2D prevention/maintenance. Buckfood human study looks at the potential of buckwheat rich foods in modulation of postprandial glycemia in people living with Type 2 diabetes. Rowett Institute on Twitter: "It's #WorldDiabetesDay today. #Research from @MadalinaNeacsu3 looks at how functional plant food ingredients could ameliorate glucose metabolism and help people living with type 2 diabetes. #leadingideas @SEFARIscot @aberdeenuni https://t.co/AwSiht6kI3" / Twitter
Novel Crops Project. Establish novel or underutilized crops as best candidates for food security and for a healthy sustainable diet. Study the nutritional composition of food crops such as buckwheat, hemp, or potato bean to assess their potential to contribute to future protein demand and agricultural diversification in Scotland. Explore their food and agricultural by-products to be revalorised for food and feed applications. Furthermore to understand these crops potential to contribute to diet biodiversification and meeting the reduction of Green House Gas Emissions in Scotland. Hemp’s role in diet biodiversification and reducing greenhouse gas emissions | SEFARI
Gut health and heart disease Project: Development of specialised food: Exploring various dietary components and strategies (specific Gastro Intestinal Tract targeted food) to deliver functional foods and ingredients as part of nutritional therapies to tackle atherosclerosis. Functional food and gut microbiota -Dr Madalina Neacsu (panopto.eu); Microbiota-directed food formulation | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)
Hemp for the future: This is a activity we run in schools across Scotland exploring the hemp crop. Hemp is a carbon-neutral, zero-waste crop used for materials, food, energy and personal care. Research at the Rowett Institute investigates hemp as a source of healthy and sustainable food, showcasing Scottish Government funded work on Scottish grown hemp for food and work with major UK hemp food producers. Furthermore, within this activity are discussed other possibilities hemp brings as an agricultural crop, its multitude of uses, and its potential as climate change champion contributing towards a net-zero society.
My work involves working across public, industry and academia for promotion and understanding of the chemistry and biology underpinning all aspects of food science. I actively participate in knowledge exchange activities, specifically raising public awareness of the importance of consuming plant-based foods, being recently awarded (2020) The Principal Excellence Prize on Public Engagement with Research.
Taste of Plants Project.This project consists of a novel format knowledge exchange event aimed to communicate SEFARI (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) research to key stakeholders. Taste of Plants Project | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)
If you want to know more about this project you can follow the link: Taste of Plants | SEFARI
A taste of plants recipe book. We have recently been studying how different sources of protein may contribute to healthier diets, could help Scotland be more sustainable (both economically and environmentally) and help reduce its dependence on imported foods and ingredients. Our research has looked at the potential to use our land in different ways.
ERASMUS+ Interinstitutional Agreement between University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj Napoca, Romania and The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK.
This grant facilitates the mobility and exchange of postgraduates research students and staff for specific complementary projects and lecturing.
Miguel Hernandez University, Elche Spain and Mitra Sol Spain: development, production and scale up technologies for functional foods and ingredients using food and agricultural by-products.
Pablo Olavide University, Spain Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville (upo.es). Assessing the potential of agricultural and food co-products to develop functional ingredients for chronic disease prevention and maintenance.
Funding and Grants
2022-2027: Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (PI, fully funded, approx. £1.8M): Hemp: a climate resilient crop for the future of Scottish agriculture
2022-2027: Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (co-PI, fully funded, approx. £1.6M): Supply Chain-Driven Food and Drink Reformulation to achieve Scotland’s Dietary and Climate Targets
2021-2024: CONACyT Mexico and Good Hemp company UK (PI, approx. £120K PhD studentship), The potential of hemp and co-products to diversify the food ingredients and diet composition. The development of foods and functional food ingredients while reducing waste from hemp food production and deliver a circular nutrition.
2020 SEFARI Gateway ROF, Hemp for 45 (co-PI)
2019 SEFARI Gateway ROF, A Taste of Plants (PI, £13,000)
2016-2022 Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (PI, fully funded, approx. £1M/year)
2018 MRC Proximity to Discovery Grant Mobility grant to engage with Industry (PI);
2016-2021 ERASMUS+ Mobility grant (PI);
2017-2020 BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund (£473,600; co-PI,), Moringa; delivering nutrition and economic value to the people of Malawi;
2015-2018 CAPES Brazil (PI, approx. £100,000, PhD studentship), Developing novel sustainable functional food ingredients;
2014-2015 FHIS grant with industry (PI, approx. £10,000) Formulation of a meat free version of traditional “Scotch pie” and asses its nutritional benefits.
Coordinator on Line Msc Course (RN5503): Development and Coordination of Clinical Nutrition for Disease Prevention (including course design)
RN5005 - Food Reformulation: Theory & Practice
RN5503 - Clinical Nutrition For Disease Prevention
RN5504 - Nutrition And Health Through The Life Stages
RN5505 - Clinical Nutrition
Non-course Teaching Responsibilities
Miss Ashley Ward
Miss Verena Schmidt
Mr Ricardo Sanchez
MSc supervision and BSc supervision
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Sapogenol is a major microbial metabolite in human plasma associated with high protein soy-based diets: the relevance for functional food formulationsFoods, vol. 9, no. 4, 422Contributions to Journals: Articles
Rapid method for quantification of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins in human biological samplesFood Chemistry, vol. 290, pp. 56-63Contributions to Journals: Articles
Food processing manufacturing and reformulation processesFood. Hanley, B., Russell, W. (eds.). Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 129-190, 62 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Proteomic and Glucosinolate Profiling of Rapeseed Isolates from Meals Produced by Different Oil Extraction ProcessesJournal of Food Processing and Preservation, vol. 41, no. 4, e13060Contributions to Journals: Articles
Availability and dose response of phytophenols from a wheat bran-rich cereal product in healthy human volunteersMolecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 1-15Contributions to Journals: Articles
Meat Reduction and Plant-Based Food: Replacement of Meat: Nutritional, Health, and Social AspectsSustainable Protein Sources. Nadathur, S. R., Wanasundara, J. P. D., Scanlin, L. (eds.). Elsevier Inc., pp. 359-375, 17 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Nutritional and Phytochemical Content of High-Protein CropsJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 64, no. 41, pp. 7800-7811Contributions to Journals: Articles
Anti- and pro-oxidative effect of fresh and freeze-dried vegetables during storage of mayonnaiseJournal of Food Science and Technology, vol. 52, no. 12, pp. 7914-7923Contributions to Journals: Articles
Phytochemical profile of commercially available food plant powders: their potential role in healthier food reformulationsFood Chemistry, vol. 179, pp. 159-169Contributions to Journals: Articles
Comparative study of the functional properties of lupin, green pea, fava bean, hemp, and buckwheat flours as affected by pHFood Science and Nutrition, vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 802-810Contributions to Journals: Articles