Dr. Eckhert is a world expert on dietary trace elements with a main focus on boron. Boron is essential for plant growth, flowering and seed formation and has become deficient in soils in many parts of the world leading to major crop failure. Fruits, nuts, legumes and tubers are the main human food sources of the element and their boron content reflects soil levels. Meats and grains contribute only a minimal amount. Greater than 90% of dietary boron is absorbed as boric acid which equilibrates with all tissues and is excreted unchanged with a half-life of 23-27 hours. Understanding what boric acid does in the body has required different approaches and methods. The first question Dr. Eckhert addressed was whether it was essential for vertebrate cells. To answer this he developed a boron depleted aquaculture system. The eggs and sperm of boron depleted zebrafish formed zygotes that did not divide normally and died. Adding boron back enabled them to cleave into two cells and go on to form normal embryos. This was proof boron was essential. To determine if the level of human boron intake was associated with a human disease Dr. Eckhert collaborated with Dr. Zhang in FSPH. Using epidemiology as a screening tool they showed higher levels of dietary boron reduced the risk of prostate cancer in a dose dependent manner. This stimulated other studies that showed boron reduced the risk of cervical dysplasia, lung cancer and enlargement of the prostate. The approach to identify the mechanism underpinning boron’s beneficial required still different approaches. Mass spectrometry was used to identify and characterize molecular targets of boric acid. Methods were developed to deplete boron from cell culture media and boron sensitive cell models identified and characterized. Once done, confocal imaging was used to identify functional molecular targets in live prostate cell models, and gene arrays, RT-PCR and immunoblotting to identify downstream molecular pathways that responded to levels of boric acid that occur in blood following a meal. These studies have provided proof of principal that changes in BA levels in blood, which can be achieved by diet, are sufficient to activate molecular pathways known to protect cells from environmental hazards. The stage is now set to determine if this occurs in human populations. This seminar gives an overview of boron’s new found biology and the opportunity it offers to address challenges to global food security from population expansion, resource contraction and climate change.