By working directly with industry, NRG researchers adapt and provide innovative science-based solutions to the challenges and opportunities that emerge in a changing market. Certifying that regulatory compliance is met with every project, NRG’s multidisciplinary team ensures that companies using NRG’s services are educated on the latest quality standards and technological advances.
If you have a potential project in mind, ask an NRG research expert.
Dr. Paula Brown is the Director of BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG), which has been actively supporting the Natural Health Products (NHP) industry for over two decades through applied research activities, including product development, establishment of quality standards and regulatory compliance. Dr. Brown is also the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Phytoanalytics, investigating the wide range of chemicals produced by plants, how they are synthesized, regulated and allocated within plant tissues, their extractability and activity and their role in plant and human health.
- Mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, analytical method development, chemometrics
- Natural product chemistry, validation studies, plant metabolomics
PhD, Chemistry, University of British Columbia
MSc, Chemistry, Simon Fraser University
BSc Honours, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Dalhousie University
Awards & Recognition
- 2023 USP Science Volunteer Award Winner – Cannabis Expert Panel Contribution
- 2022 Harvey W. Wiley Award from AOAC INTERNATIONAL (AOAC)
- 2020 American Botanical Council Norman R. Farnsworth Award for Excellence in Botanical Research.
- 2020 Thieme Award Planta Medica Most Innovative Original Paper. “The Terroir of Cannabis: Terpene Metabolomics as a Tool to Understand Cannabis sativa Selections”.
- 2019 American Society of Pharmacognosy Waters Award for Innovations in Natural Product Research.
- 2016 NHP Research Society of Canada Neil Towers Award.
- 2016 American Herbal Products Association Herbal Insight Award.
- 2013 Thieme Award Planta Medica Most Innovative Original Paper. “Comparisons of Large (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) and Small (Vaccinium oxycoccos L., Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.) Cranberry in British Columbia by Phytochemical Determination, Antioxidant Potential, and Metabolomic Profiling with Chemometric Analysis”.
- 2011 Society for Economic Botany, Richard E. Schultes Research Award.
- 2011 AOAC Expert Review Panel (ERP) of the Year Recipient.
- 2009 AOAC Fellowship.
- 2005 BC Institute of Technology Research Excellence Award.
Current Professional Activities:
- Co-Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee on Health Products Containing Cannabis, Health Canada, Feb 2021-present.
- Member, Task Force on Self-Care Framework, Health Canada, Sept 2018-present.
- Expert Advisor, Botanical Dietary Supplement and Traditional Medicines, United States Pharmacopoeia.
- Advisory Board Member, American Botanical Council.
- Member, Joint Committee on Dietary Supplements, NSF International, Sept 2005– present; Chair 2007-2018).
- Section editor, Natural Products & Dietary Supplements, Journal of the AOAC International, (2018-present).
- 2023 USP Science Volunteer Award Winner – Cannabis Expert Panel Contribution
- BCIT researcher Dr. Paula Brown receives prestigious scientific award from AOAC INTERNATIONAL, BCIT News, February 14, 2002.
- BCIT researcher Dr. Paula Brown awarded the ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Award. BCIT News, June 7, 2021.
- Kombucha: an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage?. BCIT News, Nov 1, 2019.
- BCIT Researchers have received Official Method of Analysis status for cannabinoids in cannabis. BCIT News, Apr 19, 2019.
- Cannabis beverages in the brew: BCIT and UBC partner with private cannabis company. BCIT News, November 28, 2018.
- High-tech cannabis research supports quality control. BCIT News. May 10, 2018.
- Vancouver researchers take issue with U.S. FDA’s alarmist memo on kratom. Georgia Straight. February 17, 2018.
- Visiting Professor of Pharmacy Science of Hunan University of Chinese Medicine
Wendy Applequist. Missouri Botanical Garden
Joseph M Betz. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements
Mark Blumenthal. American Botanical Council
Michael Deyholos. Biology, UBC
Susie Findlay. Vancouver Community College
Roy Golsteyn. University of Lethbridge
Loren Israelson. United Natural Products Alliance
A. Max P. Jones. Plant Agriculture, Guelph
Ikhlas Khan. Director, National Center for Natural Products Research
Danna Leeman. Canadian Museum of Nature
Susan J. Murch. Chemistry, UBC
Diane Ragone. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii
Mark Rheault. Biology, UBC
Praveen K. Saxena. Plant Agriculture, Guelph
Paul R. Shipley. Chemistry, UBC
Roy Upton. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia
- West Kootenay Herb Grower’s Cooperative
- Natural Factors
- Joy of the Mountains
- Happy Planet
- CMH Biotechnolgies
- Jamieson Labs
- BC Food Processors Association
- Small Scale Food Processors Association of BC
- Canadian Health Food Association
- I. Cole, UBC Biology
- Elizabeth Mudge, BCIT
- J. Lund, UBC Chemistry
- Dr. C. Turi, University of Guelph
- Dr. Y. Liu, BCIT
Mohamed joined BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group in 2021 to conduct research in the discovery and function of natural products from natural sources in projects jointly supervised by Dr. Paula Brown. Mohamed also works with Dr. Michael Deyholos, the head of the Department of Biology at the University of British Columbia.
Mohamed has a lifelong passion for natural products and their immense role in improving the life of human beings. For him, working in natural products’ research is a fine art that he excels in and has enjoyed throughout his career. To succeed in such a multidisciplinary area of research he has developed the skills of isolation, structure elucidation of bioactive metabolites, and the use of total synthesis as a powerful tool for supplying rare drug leads not available in sufficient quantities from nature.
In his previous postdoctoral experience at the National Center for Natural Products Research, University of Mississippi, he worked on projects to develop analytical methods and reference standards for the standardization of some pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and agrochemicals, in addition to evaluation of botanicals’ utility in the dietary supplements industry by using multiple techniques for the identification and authentication of medicinal plants.
Mohamed received his PhD in Pharmacognosy from the department of BioMolecular Sciences at the University of Mississippi. He also holds an M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences with emphasis in Pharmacognosy and B.Sc. in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences from Al-Azhar University, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo, Egypt.
Michael Chan has been a researcher with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group since 2004. Michael received his PhD in Pharmacognosy from the University of Mississippi and also holds a BSc in General Sciences from the University of British Columbia, a BTech in Environmental Health from BCIT and a DTech in Food Technology from BCIT.
Michael has extensive knowledge and experience in areas related to the chemical and biological aspects of pharmacognosy, including bioassay design and applications, analysis of natural products in complex matrixes, isolation techniques, and methods for the determination of unknown chemical structures.
During his time in the department, Michael has worked on a variety of projects focused on the development, assessment and assurance of the quality, safety and efficacy of dietary supplement, natural health and food products. With his knowledge and experience in regulatory affairs and risk assessment, Michael has also coordinated several projects focused on the regulatory compliance of dietary supplements, natural health and food products.
Jamie Finley is a research assistant with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG). He has a keen interest in applying multivariate data analysis to natural health product quality and has over 7 years experience in microbiology and analytical chemistry. Jamie is also one of NRG’s specialists in fermentation, identification of micro-organisms and microbial load criteria for agricultural products. Jamie’s overall goal at NRG is to advance the state of practice for characterization and quality control of commercial and research based natural health products.
Jamie began his career as a co-operative student with the UBC Michael Smith Laboratories and BCIT’s NRG. He then went on to characterize lipids, plasmid DNA and siRNA for a leading molecular therapeutics company and was involved in developing chemical characterization methods for therapeutic study. Prior to joining NRG full time, Jamie worked as a microbiologist for a leading BC analytical laboratory where he analyzed the microbiological and chemical parameters of different materials.
Jamie has a BSc (Hons) and DiplT in biotechnology from UBC and BCIT. He is able to conduct business in American Sign Language and is a member of AOAC International.
Yigong Guo, a Mitacs Accelerate funded researcher in NRG, is working with enhanced delivery systems of nanoencapsulated bioactive compounds to create novel food products. Currently, he is conducting research focusing on buccal delivery of nanoencapsulated insulin and oleogel-based systems for the delivery of bioactive compounds in foods. His research has garnered global media attention for its potential to improve the lives of patients relying on protein-based therapies.
Prior to joining NRG, he obtained his dual degree (BSc & MSc) in Pharmacy from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he focused on chemical analysis of bioactive compounds in natural products. Subsequently in 2023, he received his doctoral (PhD) degree in Food Science from University of British Columbia under the supervision of food processing expert Dr. Anubhav Pratap-Singh. His research topic was focus on using lipid-based enhancers to augment transmucosal bioavailability of encapsulated drug delivery systems (nano-emulsions and liposomes). He has published more than 30 manuscripts, including collaborative projects and dedicated to helping others develop and test new novel food products.
Hazrah Moothoo is a multi-talented research assistant with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG). She has worked with NRG since 2001 and has developed a strong skill set in plant collection, macroscopy and microscopy. Hazrah also coordinates many of NRG’s research projects and is the key contributor to most operations. Hazrah has a BSc in biology from SFU and a DiplT in biotechnology from BCIT. Prior to joining NRG, Hazrah gained experience in a variety of industry laboratory positions. She began her career in the biosciences as a research assistant working as part of a therapeutic drug monitoring program team and continued in industry analyzing pesticide residues in food materials.
Hazrah assisted in the preparation of course and laboratory materials for BCIT’s Food 1190 – Herbal Product Quality. The course was designed to provide practical training in microscopic/macroscopic skills for companies to create a quality control program to support Health Canada’s NHP Regulations established in 2004. As a member of board for the BC Herb Growers Association from 2004-2006, Hazrah was also instrumental in securing funding from the Health Product and Functional Food Program (BC Innovation Council) to revitalize the Association’s marketing approach.
Hazrah completed a professional development leave in 2011 where she was invited to conduct field collections of Crataegus species in the Pacific Northwest as part of an NSERC funded research project with the Royal Ontario Museum. As a visiting scholar with University of Mississippi’s Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden, Hazrah assisted in the cultivation of trial plots of 3 types of chamomile to support research projects conducted by the School of Pharmacy. Hazrah has completed the Associate Certificate in Leadership at BCIT.
Rebecca Robertson (Faculty Researcher, NRG, and Instructor, Food Technology) has extensive industry experience having established and operated a business partnership offering technical consulting to the food and natural health product industry for over 15 years. Her projects combine science and business as this is the key to offering practical, economical solutions that work in a business context.
In 2020, she completed a Master of Food Science degree at the University of British Columbia. Her pioneering research in the application of continuous improvement including Six Sigma tools to improve safety outcomes will be invaluable to improving food safety outcomes in the food industry.
This approach was also incorporated into the full-time food technology curriculum at BCIT by Rebecca, thus enabling food technology diploma graduates to bring useful, future-focused food safety and quality techniques to BC’s food manufacturing industry when they graduate.
Rebecca is a member of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, the Institute of Food Technologists, the International Association of Food Protection and the American Society for Quality.
Dr. Anika Singh joined the Natural Health and Food Product Research Group (NRG) in 2021 as Project Leader. She is an active researcher working in the interface of Post-Harvest Processing and Food Chemistry and helping Canadian Food Industries solve R&D challenges. Before joining NRG, Dr. Singh worked as a Research Associate at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia (UBC). At UBC, Dr. Singh contributed significantly to the development of collaborative research projects and the implementation of innovative research strategies and managing research partnerships between local BC food industries, government, and academia.
Dr. Singh received her PhD degree in Food Science from McGill University in 2016. Soon after finishing her PhD, Dr. Singh won the Talent Edge Fellowship in Ontario, Canada, and was appointed as a Manager of Compliance & Technical Services at Allergen Control Group (ACG), Toronto. At ACG, Anika worked with food safety regulators and enforcement agencies around the globe to harmonize the standard against management certification of facilitates producing gluten-free food products. She has extensive work experience in various novel food processing techniques such as thermal, high pressure, pulsed light & microwave processing and has researched food safety and microbial validation. Dr. Singh is an expert in food quality and safety with working knowledge of Canadian & US food & drug regulations and food quality/safety policies. She has more than 35+ publications in renowned journals in food science and presentations at international conferences.
Key research areas
Post-Harvest Processing, Food Chemistry, Bioaccessibility and Bioavailability of Bioactives, Digestion of Food and Natural Health Products, Food Emulsions, Packaging Film Design, HPLC and GC Analysis of Food Components, Process Machinery Design.
PhD, Food Science, McGill University, Canada
M.Tech, Post Harvest Processing and Food Engineering, Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University, India
B.Tech, Agriculture Engineering, Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University, India
Hong has been a Research Associate with the BC Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) Natural Health and Foods Products Research Group (NRG) since September 2010. With over 15 years’ experience in the food technology industry, Hong brings to the group hands on experience with HACCP, SOP’s, GMP’s and regulatory systems. Hong works closely with food manufactures to implement practical HACCP programs that integrate into their operations. She has been assisting industry in the commercialization and development of new food products and has helped companies improve existing processes to find efficiencies within their manufacturing process. Hong also works closely with BCIT students both as a past instructor in the Food Technology program and as a mentor, working directly with students in the Phytoanalytics Laboratory.
Prior to joining NRG, Hong began her career in the food manufacturing industry as a quality control technician in the meat industry. In 2007, she completed the professional Culinary Diploma at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. Upon completion of the program she moved into product development roles at major local food companies in the lower mainland. In 2017, she completed the Operation Management Lean Six Sigma Associate Certificate with the BCIT School of Business and holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences in Nutritional Sciences (2003) from the University of British Columbia.
Hong sits as an active steering committee member of the BC Collaborative for Social Infrastructure and on the BCIT Food Security Committee which creates a cross collaborative platform focusing on student food system initiatives centralizing on food equity on campus.
As research assistant with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG), Ronan Yu has thorough knowledge in the field of natural product research. With over 10 years experience in molecular biology and analytical chemistry, he is one of NRG’s specialists in the development and validation of analytical test methods. Ronan’s advanced instrumentation skills and ability to adapt new technologies to the analysis of natural health products are key assets to the success of NRG.
Prior to joining NRG, Ronan worked in a variety of industry and government positions. He began his career in the biosciences as a junior microbiologist investigating fungal wood rot for Forintek and continued as a researcher investigating pathogenic organisms in stock feedlot for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Ronan branched into the field of analytical chemistry while conducting trace metal analysis at Philip Analytical Services and went on to validate analytical methods for drug analysis at Angiotech.
Ronan has a BSc (Hons) in biotechnology from UBC and a DiplT in both chemical sciences and biotechnology from BCIT. He is fluent in Tagalog (Filipino) and is an active member of the NHP Research Society.
As a research analyst with BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG), Xiaohui Zhang is contributing his strong expertise in medicinal chemistry to the field of natural health products. With over 17 years of experience in chemistry, he is one of NRG’s specialists in organic synthesis, natural health products formulation, extraction process development and phytochemical investigation. Xiaohui’s advanced instrumentation skills are a key asset to the success of NRG.
Prior to joining NRG, Xiaohui worked in a variety of research positions. He began as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Mississippi, where he conducted bioassay guided isolation of antifungal compounds from microorganisms and marine sponges, as well as the structural modification of antifungal natural products. Xiaohui went on to build his career as a natural product chemist in Canada, where he focused on the research and development of natural health products with central nervous system activities.
Xiaohui has a PhD in medicinal chemistry from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and a BSc in Chemistry from the Shandong Normal University in China. He is fluent in Mandarin and has contributed to an array of publications, including the Journal of Natural Products and Plant Medica.