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Mireille Boutin, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mathematics at Purdue University will discuss “Deriving Nutrition Information Using Mathematics: A Focus on Phenylalanine for PKU Management.”

Abstract: Diet plays an important role in the management of diseases. A striking example is phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited metabolic disease that leads to severe mental retardation if left untreated. However, a life-long low-phenylalanine diet started shortly after birth enables patients to develop normally and lead productive lives. A key factor in successful diet management is having readily accessible nutrition information. Traditionally, PKU patients have relied on food nutrient databases, such as the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, to estimate the phenylalanine (Phe) in the food they consume. But what to do when encountering a food that is not listed in any database? For commercial foods, one solution is to use mathematical reasoning, along with the information printed on the food label, to compute an estimate for the desired nutrition data. In this talk, we will present some lemmas to estimate Phe in candy, as well as more general numerical optimization techniques to estimate Phe in commercial foods.
This work is in collaboration with Jieun Kim and Amruthavarshini Talikoti.


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