Nutritionist to Direct Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science

Clare Hasler, a nutritionist and founding director of the Functional Foods for Health Program at the University of Illinois, Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses, has been named the founding executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis.

Hasler is a leading authority on "functional foods" -- foods that provide specific health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart disease or cancer, in addition to meeting basic nutritional needs. She will assume the new position by the end of January.

"Clare Hasler brings to the Robert Mondavi Institute a rare combination of strengths, including scholarly expertise in the area of foods and health. She also has a remarkable ability to bridge the worlds of academia, industry and the public, " said Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "We are excited to have her join the UC Davis team that is now crafting the future of the Mondavi Institute."

As executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute, Hasler will lead programming and vision-development efforts for the institute, as well as guide fund-raising activities. She also will serve as the university's primary liaison to the wine and food industries.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be given such a tremendous opportunity," Hasler said. "The Robert Mondavi Institute is poised to become the global leader and innovator in university-based wine and food science. And there is not a more appropriate place for such a vision to be realized than at the University of California, Davis -- the location of the nation's most prestigious wine and food science academic programs. "

Hasler holds a dual doctoral degree in environmental toxicology and human nutrition from Michigan State University and a master's degree in nutrition from the Pennsylvania State University. She also earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

From 1990-92 she served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute. She directed the Functional Foods for Health Program from 1992-2000 and now is associate director of outreach and industry relations for the program. She also is an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Pharmacognosy is a branch of pharmacology that focuses on therapeutic drugs that have a biological origin, especially medicines derived from plants.

Her current research focuses on the role of soy in preventing chronic disease. She teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on functional foods and the role that chemicals derived from plants play in disease prevention. In 1998 she was recognized by Self magazine as one of the "Top 25 Food Influentials."

The Robert Mondavi Institute will break ground in 2004 and is slated for completion in 2006. The complex will include a 127,000 square-foot academic building with classrooms, laboratories and offices; a 20,000 square-foot food science laboratory; and a 40,000 square-foot teaching and research winery. It will be located near UC Davis' south entry, just west of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

The institute will house the campus departments of Viticulture and Enology, and Food Science and Technology. It will also bring together students and faculty in related areas who have an interest in the wine and food sciences and will provide cutting-edge facilities for teaching and research in these areas. The institute also will offer educational programs for the visiting public.

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