Montana State University

Dietary supplements to be discussed during April 21 Café Scientifique

March 30, 2011 -- MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN - Are dietary supplements harmful or helpful?

That question will be addressed at the next Café Scientifique to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Baxter Ballroom in downtown Bozeman. The event is free and open to the public.

Mark Jutila, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and interim head of the Department of Microbiology at Montana State University, will discuss complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) and recent research in the area, focusing on impacts on the immune system.

CAMS are nutritional supplements taken in hopes of positively impacting human health. CAMs, which include many different plant products and probiotics, are used by nearly 40 percent of the American public in some form, yet Jutila says people have a poor understanding of their potential human health benefits, specific mechanisms of action, and safety.

Jutila's research focuses on inflammatory disease and developmental immunology. Jutila is one of several MSU researchers who recently received National Institutes of Health funding to study alternative medicines that target the intestine and lungs. The researchers are investigating products already on the market and medicines still being developed to understand the mechanisms that make alternative and complementary medicines work or not work. The scientists plan to examine the exact molecules that induce an effect, to determine how they work.

Jutila's academic honors include MSU's Meritorious Technology/Science Awards, the Annual WWAMI Science in Medicine Lecture (University of Washington School of Medicine), Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist of the Year (American Association of Veterinary Immunologists), MSU's Cox Award for Creative Scholarship and Teaching and the MSU Alumni Association/Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence. Jutila obtained a bachelor's degree in microbiology from MSU. His graduate work, in microbiology and immunology/veterinary science, was completed at Washington State University in Pullman.

Café Scientifique, co-sponsored by Montana's INBRE and COBRE programs, provides a relaxed setting for people to learn about current scientific topics. The concept started in England in 1998 and has spread to a handful of locations in the United States. Following a short presentation by a scientific expert, the majority of time is reserved for questions, answers and lively discussion.

For more information, contact Laurie Howell at (406) 994-7531 or For more information about the Café Scientifique concept, check the Web at