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Peter Ellis is Head of the Biopolymers Group in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. His main research interests include the structure and properties of plant polysaccharides, especially in relation to the bioaccessibility, digestion and absorption of nutrients in the human gastrointestinal tract. This work has been funded by grants from the BBSRC, MRC, FAO and Industry.   Current studies focus on the behaviour of supramolecular plant structures, such as starch and the cell wall matrices (i.e. 'dietary fibre'), in the gut and their impact on digestion and postprandial metabolism.  These mechanistic studies are of importance in evaluating the role of starch and dietary fibre on the treatment and prevention of non-communicable disease, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An improved understanding of the mechanisms of dietary polysaccharides will facilitate the rational design of novel food ingredients and food products with enhanced medical or nutritional benefits (i.e. functional foods).