Broccoli’s Superpowers

Yuri Kurerov ’19 Used New Instrumentation to Characterize Anti-Cancer Compound

Broccoli’s Superpowers

Sulforaphane, a chemical compound found in broccoli, is known to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. As an Undergraduate Research Scholar at Gardner-Webb University, Yuri Kurerov, of St. Petersburg, Russia, developed a method to separate and characterize the substance from broccoli seeds.

One of 13 GWU students to receive a grant for focused research, Kurerov worked on his project during both 2018 summer terms. He was the first student to use the new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer acquired by the Department of Science.

Kurerov came to Gardner-Webb to major in biology and prepare for medical school. Since being on campus, he has discovered an interest in chemistry and scientific research. After graduation from GWU, he plans to work on a Master of Science in chemistry.

He explained that the spectrometer works by polarizing molecules in chemical structures so the scientist can see their activity on a two-dimensional plane. Conducting the experiment prepared him for graduate school, but his larger goal was to discover something helpful for humanity. “This research was to find the cheaper method for extraction of sulforaphane,” he offered. “The cost of the pure form is extremely high.”

His mentors were professors of chemistry, Dr. Stefka Eddins and Dr. Ben Brooks. Eddins helped him during the first five weeks to find data about sulforaphane and write an annotated bibliography. In the second term, Brooks assisted him in the lab and taught him how to use the spectrometer.

“At the beginning, we had two sources of sulforaphane—broccoli seeds and sulforaphane dietary supplement pills,” Kurerov related. “The first extraction was conducted with the supplement. Later during the experiment, we realized that there was no sulforaphane in the pills, but it’s precursor, called glucoraphanin. Luckily, we had broccoli seeds as a backup plan, so they were used during the rest of the experiment.”