Michael A. Grusak, Ph.D.


Plant Physiologist
USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center
Department of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

B.S., Biology, Bates College
M.S., Botany, University of California, Davis
Ph.D., Botany, University of California, Davis

Research Interests

Homeostasis of iron, zinc and other micronutrient metals in plants Calcium transport and nutrition of crop plants, as these relate to enhancing nutritional quality Production of plant-derived biomolecules for use in human and animal nutrition investigations Bioavailability of essential nutrients and phytochemicals in humans

Biosketch

Dr. Michael A. Grusak is a Plant Physiologist at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston, TX, and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine. He also serves as Director of the CNRC Plant Growth Facility. His educational and research background include undergraduate training in biology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, after which he earned both his M.S. and Ph.D. in botany at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Grusak received postdoctoral training in isotope technology and plant nutrient transport at the Physics and Engineering Laboratory in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, the Université de Poitiers, Poitiers, France, and the USDA/ARS US Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory at Cornell University. Dr. Grusak joined the Children's Nutrition Research Center in 1990 to develop an interdisciplinary program that would link plant science/production agriculture with human nutrition concerns. He has designed and developed equipment and methodologies that enable the intrinsic labeling of plants with stable isotopes of various elements. These labeled foods are used in clinical investigations to study the bioavailability and subsequent metabolism of essential and/or health-promoting phytonutrients. Recent studies have focused on minerals, carotenoids, phylloquinone, and various phenolic compounds. In addition to these human nutrition efforts, Dr. Grusak's plant physiology laboratory is examining and identifying the biophysical and molecular mechanisms which regulate mineral transport and partitioning within plants, such that strategies can be developed to enhance the nutritional quality of plant foods. The main focus of his group is on the whole-plant homeostasis of the micronutrient metals, iron and zinc, and on the whole-plant transport of the macronutrient mineral, calcium. Experimental tools include genomic analysis and gene discovery in model species, the functional analysis of nutritionally relevant gene products, and radiotracer studies to monitor mineral transport throughout plants.


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