Motoko Mukai

Motoko Mukai

Principal Research Scientist

249 Stocking Hall
(607) 255-1835

I am trained as a veterinarian and also as a toxicologist. There are strong interconnections between animal feed contamination and human food chemical safety issues. With globalization of the food market and in anticipation of a future food crisis, food production with the help of food technologies are inevitable in order for ensure human food security. On the other hand, safety of chemical compounds found in food, whether it is unintentional (e.g. packaging migrants, by-product of processing, pesticide and drug residues) or intentional (e.g. food additives and even worse in adulteration), is a growing concern. I am interested in research that will advance and improve chemical food safety.

Research Focus

Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) are found ubiquitously in food and the environment and can cause adverse health effects by interfering with the endocrine system. Exposures to EDCs are often chronic, occur at low concentrations, and the effects may be subtle but can have significant consequences. For example, there is emerging evidence that some EDCs could act as ‘obesogens’ by affecting adipogenesis and lipid metabolism. Certain EDCs could also target critical stages of human and animal development. My laboratory is interested in how these EDCs that are ubiquitously detected in the environment and our diet, affect our health especially in the development of obesity and other endocrine related diseases such as thyroid diseases. We use variety of animal species including zebrafish, migratory birds, and rodents to screen for toxic compounds in foods, beverages, and the environment and to understand underlining molecular mechanisms of endocrine disrupting effects of EDCs.

Teaching Focus

I currently do not have a formal teaching appointment but I teach and train undergraduate and graduate students in research. I encourage students to develop critical thinking in research through reading scientific literature and discussions. In the future, I will be teaching Food Chemistry Laboratory (FDSC 4190) and will be developing a course in Food Toxicology.