The Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation recognizes Josep Bassaganya-Riera, a professor and a director at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, for his work at the interface of immunology and nutrition.
Bassaganya-Riera is the director of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute. In addition, he is the principal investigator and the director for the Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens project, a $12 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health-funded resource that investigates the immunoregulatory mechanisms underlying infections with gut pathogens by applying mathematical systems to mucosal immunology.
Bassaganya-Riera spearheads research into H. pylori, a gut-dwelling bacterium carried by half the world’s population.
H. pylori is most famously associated with peptic ulcers and stomach cancer, but its effect on people varies widely depending on the individual. In many cases it even seems to benefit its carriers, contributing to lower instances of obesity and asthma.
A leader in nutrition science, Bassaganya-Riera was part of an international team of researchers who recently identified key opportunities taking place in the field within the next five years that will be crucial in closing a major gap between the amount of food available today and the amount projected to be available in 2050.
Bassaganya-Riera said challenges in 21st century nutrition research extend beyond individual health and encompass the massively interacting systems that help sustain a global population. Moving forward will require application of informatics, data analytics, and modeling approaches.
Bassaganya-Riera founded BioTherapeutics Inc., a company located at the Corporate Research Center, to promote health and well-being through the discovery and development of nutraceuticals — naturally occurring molecules that can be integrated into nutritional products and functional food ingredients.
BioTherapeutics Inc. was incorporated to introduce novel Virginia Tech-developed nutraceutical technologies into the marketplace. The company recently received $50,000 through a “Virginia Velocity” competition, which focused on startups involved in bioscience and energy.
Bassaganya-Riera has published more than 100 scientific papers and has held research grants from various sources including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and industrial corporations.
He received his doctoral degree in Nutrition and Immunology from Iowa State University and his D.V.M. degree from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.