General Mills donates $1 million for plant genomics

General Mills officials announced they gave the University $1 million to expand research on plant genomics.
The gift will be used to create a new endowed chair position in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
The faculty member assigned to the position — which will be called the General Mills Chair in Genomics for Healthful Foods — will work on identifying ways to make more nutritious and healthful foods.
Nevin Young, a plant pathology professor and director of the Plant Molecular Genetics Institute, said the chair will probably try to develop an understanding of fundamental aspects of food biochemistry.
An example of research, Young said, could be soy beans’ production of compounds beneficial to human health. Soy beans lower cholesterol, improve the vascular system and might prevent cancer.
“There’s a lot of interest in trying to utilize food that makes it more nutritious and healthy,” Young said. “[In genomics] we’re trying to look at all of the genes of an organism at once, rather than one gene at a time.”
The $1 million gift raises General Mills contributions to the University’s Campaign Minnesota fund-raiser to $2.5 million.
Since its creation in 1996, Campaign Minnesota has raised more than $850 million in private gifts for endowment and program support. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1.3 billion by 2003.

— Fabiana Torreao