Pan is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Douglas D. Sorenson Professor of biological systems engineering at UW–Madison. His research interests explore using lignocellulose and other plant cell wall components as resources.
Postdoc: Sonali Mohapatra (pictured above) received the Innovative Researcher and Dedicated Teaching Professional Award in Biotechnology from the Society of Innovative Educationalist and Scientific Research Professionals in 2020. Mohapatra received her PhD in Fermentation Technology from Biju Patnaik University in India. Mohapatra will be mentored by Xuejun Pan from the department of Biological Systems Engineering.
This project intends to synthesize galactooligosaccharides (GOS) from lactose as a cow milk supplement to promote probiotic growth and improve gut health in humans. GOS is a major component in HMO, which plays a crucial role in infant development by benefiting bifidogenic effect, preventing the attachment of pathogens to the intestinal mucosa, stimulating the immune system, and providing sialic acid as an essential nutrient for infants. However, cow milk is is deficient in HMO. Therefore, supplementing milk with GOS has potential benefits to improve intestinal health. In this project, researchers will synthesize GOS from lactose using an innovative low-cost non-enzymatic method. Researchers will then evaluate the prebiotic benefits of the synthesized GOS to stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria via in vitro fermentation and in vivo animal test with the GOS-supplemented milk. The high value GOS from lactose and the GOS supplemented milk are expected to create new revenue for the dairy industry. This research will generate new knowledge on the chemistry, synthesis, and prebiotic benefits of GOS.