Despite modern advances in health and nutrition, the plant kingdom remains largely a mystery.

While we know that plants like fruits and vegetables are good for us when eaten, we don’t know exactly why. The biological activity of chemical substances found in plants is still mostly unexplored.

If researchers can uncover secrets hidden deep inside a plant, identifying bioactive compounds and understanding how they work, they can start to determine which components fight cancer, promote endurance or boost metabolism. They can begin to understand how plants combat human disease, and then use that knowledge to help millions of people.

Dr. Mary Ann Lila lives to do just that. Research is what makes me tick," she said.

The new director of the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus, Lila has devoted her 25-year career to studying the biologically active properties of plants.

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