Hongbing Fan earned a master’s degree in food science at China Agricultural University in 2015, working mainly on aquatic product processing and preservation. Afterward, Hongbing pursued a Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Jianping Wu in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science, at the University of Alberta, Canada. His current research interests include protein chemistry, functional foods and bioactive peptides.
He won the 2021 Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship.
How long have you been an AOCS member and what types of activities have you participated in?
I have been an AOCS student member since 2018. Since then, I have participated in various academic and social activities in AOCS across the Divisions, such as webinars, midweek mixers, Division meetings, etc. I have also volunteered as the chair of Student Common Interest Group (2019–2021) and as co-chairs of Protein and Co-Product (PCP)/Health & Nutrition Division (H&N) technical or poster sessions during the 2020 and 2021 AOCS Annual Meetings. I have also been involved in the AOCS Canadian Section leadership team since 2019.
What big problem is your research trying to solve?
My Ph.D. thesis project is to develop antihypertensive peptides from spent hen muscle proteins. Spent hens are the birds reaching the end of their egg-laying cycle and are the major byproduct in the egg industry. Every year, more than 400 million spent hens are produced in North America. Processing them for food/feed uses is of little economic value; they are instead mostly disposed by burial, composting, and incineration, which cause environmental and animal welfare issues.
Food protein-derived antihypertensive peptides are an emerging treatment for hypertension, a global public health concern. Previous research demonstrated the possible presence of antihypertensive peptides in spent hen muscle proteins, including peptides targeting angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and ACE2, two key enzymes regulating high blood pressure. This project aims to identify and characterize these two types of antihypertensive peptides from spent hen muscle proteins, followed by evaluating their efficacy in various cell and animal models of hypertension.
Characterization of peptides targeting ACE2 will broaden the research of antihypertensive peptides beyond that of ACE, the conventional target of antihypertension. The valorized use of spent hens adds new values to the egg industry and may produce inexpensive functional food ingredients as alternatives to synthetic drugs for the treatment of hypertension.
Can you tell us about your new role with the AOCS H&N Division?
It has been such a pleasure to serve as the membership liaison for the H&N Division and get more interactions with Division members. As the membership liaison, I help engage members of the Division, through reviewing lapsed membership, reaching out to new members with a welcome and organizing gatherings like midweek mixers within H&N or across AOCS Divisions.
Do you have any words of wisdom or suggestions for other AOCS H&N members or students who are aspiring towards their future careers?
Work hard and play harder; work independently while collaborating with others. As I recently graduated from my Ph.D. studies, I highly encourage student members to present their research work at AOCS Annual Meetings and apply for AOCS Awards. I also encourage student members to participate and volunteer more in academic and social activities organized by our Division and AOCS. Volunteering enhances your communication skills, builds your network and provides leadership training.