Dr. Mark Berhow received his B.Sc. (cum laude) in Life Sciences from the University of Portland in 1977 and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Washington State University in 1984. From 1983 to 1994 he was a Research Chemist at the USDA, ARS, Fruit and Vegetable Chemistry Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. In 1994 he transferred to the USDA, ARS National Center for Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, where he is currently a Lead Scientist of a project in the Functional Foods Research Unit.
His research interests include the examination of the processes involved in the biosynthesis and accumulation of biologically active plant secondary metabolites or “phytochemicals.” He has spent most of his professional career as an analytical chemist developing a better understanding of the functional roles of these plant phytochemicals. His work in Pasadena centered on research projects focused on the pre-harvest improvement of citrus crops, specifically in the development of methodology to evaluate and, ultimately, to reduce the levels of the bitter principles in citrus juices—the flavanone neohesperidosides and the limonoids. In Peoria, he has continued his work on analytical methods for the identification and quantification of secondary metabolites in plants, which can be used as biologically active chemicals for pest control, food additives, or pharmacological uses. The project team he heads specializes in the identification, isolation, and analysis of phytochemicals from plants and plant products, such as the isoflavones and saponins from soy and the glucosinolates from the crucifer species, and assessing their functional activity in biological systems.
Dr. Berhow is an internationally recognized authority on plant phytochemical analysis, especially plant flavonoids. He has developed and utilized chromatographic techniques, especially HPLC, to separate, identify, and quantitate a wide variety of plant phytochemicals, especially plant phenolics. He has used these techniques to provide new research findings on plant secondary metabolism and the interaction of these compounds with other plants, insects, and in animals and humans that consume them. His recent work has centered on the development of rapid and accurate methods to identify and measure a variety of phytochemicals from a variety of plant tissues and products. Dr. Berhow's research has led to the development of several methods to solve complex problems associated with secondary plant metabolites—especially phenolics, flavonoids, terpenoids, and glucosinolates.
He has a number of strong collaborations with researchers at NCAUR and other ARS locations, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is an adjunct appointment in the Department of Crop Science and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. He has taken an active role in efforts to upgrade the chemical analytical capabilities at NCAUR, especially the NMR and mass spectroscopy facilities. He is the author of over 146 publications and has been an active member of the American Chemical Society. He is currently serving as President of the Phytochemical Society of North America.