March 15, 2021

Meet Our Biochemist, Dr. Matthew Posewitz

Dr. Posewitz is a professor of Chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. The research laboratory he works in has studied algal biotechnology for over 20 years and published more than 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts in this area. Dr. Posewitz has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College.

We sat down with Dr. Posewitz for a short Q&A to get his perspective on GEM, benefits from different algal strains, and food as medicine. 

GEM: Tell us more about your discipline – what is it and why is it important?

Dr. Posewitz: Our laboratory studies algal metabolism and physiology. We have sampled all over the world (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, Great Salt Lake, Arctic) to find unique algae with interesting natural products and biochemical tales that reflect billions of years of evolution in challenging environments. Nature has many secrets to reveal and we revel in the chase.

GEM: Let’s start with the basics. Fundamentally, what is algae?

Dr. Posewitz: From our perspective they are photoautotrophic, aquatic organisms that convert sunlight, CO2, H2O and some trace nutrients into the molecules of life.

GEM:Algae often carries myths and misconceptions with it. Can you help us bust these? 

Dr. Posewitz: Algae are often considered “pond scum”. In reality, they form the base of an amazing food pyramid.

GEM: In your opinion, why is algae an important ecosystem to consider in the role of food as medicine?

Dr. Posewitz: Some foods are so processed that the nutritional assets are severely degraded, and even worse they can actually diminish health. Algae are very diverse, and provide many unique opportunities to provide unique flavors, aromas and essential nutrient combinations. Truly a treasure chest of opportunities.

GEM: We incorporate a few different algae across our products, talk to us about some of the research behind each of these and why these are important to consider in the future of your health?

  • Chlorella - They are ubiquitous organisms that are often robust growers. They provide a diversity of nutritional components (over 40!) including B vitamins and magnesium. Research also suggests that chlorella can aid with detoxification of heavy metals, can provide immune system support, and can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Spirulina - They are often very good at growing at a high pH,  surviving extreme conditions and forming easy to harvest filaments. Spirulina has a rich history as a food resource in Central America. It contains all essential amino acids and is made up of 65% protein. It is beneficial for immunity & heart health. 
  • Astaxanthin - It is a powerful antioxidant and food coloring agent. Interestingly enough, they contribute to the color of fish flesh and flamingos. Antioxidants, like Astaxanthin, promote good health by protecting cells against free radicals, which may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. 

  • GEM: What’s next in the world of algae for food and medicine that excites you?

    Dr. Posewitz: Many algae thrive in seawater and recent strains exceed the productivities of our best crops. From a sustainability standpoint getting healthy “plant-based” nutritional supplements and even food from salt water could be a game changer.

    GEM: You bring a wealth of research & knowledge to GEM. Why were you excited to join our scientific advisory board?

    Dr. Posewitz: Joining the board is a terrific opportunity to extend our research interests into the commercial sector. Algae have a lot to offer and we have a lot of fun thinking of the ways they can solve problems. GEM is a cutting-edge start up that seeks to leverage nutrition assets from the world’s oldest organisms in contemporary foods and supplements. It’s a pleasure to combine our efforts to make the world a better, healthier and more sustainable place.

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