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William Barbeau

Associate Professor


Bill Barbeau retired at the end of the 2013 fall semester after spending 28 years with the department (1985-2013). He continued to teach a class for HNFE as an adjunct through spring 2020.

On June 28, 1985, Barbeau and his wife Irma arrived in Blacksburg on their 10th wedding anniversary with their young daughters Sarah and Rebecca in tow. Almost 30 years later, he retired at the end of fall semester 2013.

His original research focus was the extraction and potential animal/human food uses of rubisco, a protein extracted from the chloroplasts of green leaves. He presented his research findings at “Leaf-Pro” conferences in Italy (1989), New Zealand (1993), and Russia (1996). However, his focus shifted in the mid ’90s to cereal proteins, collaborating with Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences faculty. Ten years later, he taught himself immunology, which led to researching food allergies, celiac disease, and the idea that wheat gluten proteins are involved in autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes. He was fascinated by this idea and the science surrounding it.

Of all the classes Bill taught over the years, he enjoyed teaching Science of Food and Experimental Foods the most. Favorite experiences include taking students on the Food, Nutrition, and Wellness Tour and listening to student presentations, such as the Science of Food debate, food product development team competition, and Experimental Foods research findings.

Barbeau said it was his privilege and pleasure to teach, advise, and interact with all of the students, past and present. He continues to paint and has written a book.

Barbeau began his career as a teaching assistant at Cornell University; he was also a lab technician with New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston and  served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Brazil.

Each Halloween, Dr. Barbeau held a campus scavenger hunt for HNFE graduate students, which is fondly remembered (and was revived for fall 2015).

Barbeau stays busy with his oil paintings and volunteering as chair of the Haiti Committee at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Investigation of wheat proteins as environmental triggers in type 1 diabetes

Use of resistant starch to prevent type 2 diabetes

Pub Med Publications

William E. Barbeau, Raquel Hontecillas, William Horne, Adria Carbo, Michael H. Koch, Josep Bassaganya-Riera. Elevated CD8 T cell responses in type 1 diabetes patients to a 13 amino acid celiac-active peptide from alpha-gliadin. Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Sep 10.  

Jennifer Coleman, A. O. Abaye, William Barbeau, and Wade Thomason. The suitability of teff flour in bread, layer cakes, cookies, and biscuits. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Nov.

Jennifer Coleman, A. O. Abaye, William Barbeau, and Wade Thomason. Nutrient composition and consumer acceptance of teff flour in sugar cookies. Journal of Nutritional Ecology and Food Research, Volume 1, Number 2, June 2013 , pp. 129-133(5)

Barbeau, W.E. 2012. What is the key environmental trigger in type 1 diabetes – Is it viruses, wheat gluten, or both? Autoimmunity Reviews

Aigster, A., Duncan, S.E., Conforti, F.D., Barbeau, W.E. 2011 Physicochemical Properties and Sensory Attributes of Resistant Starch Supplemented Granola Bars and Cereals. LWT-Food Science and Technology

Penn-Marshall, M., Holtzman G. and Barbeau, W.E. 2010. African-Americans May Have to Consume More Than Twelve Grams of Resistant Starch a Day to Lower Their Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Journal of Medicinal Food, 13: 999-1004.

Thakare, K., Shi, W., Barbeau, W.E., Bassaganya-Riera, J., Hontecillas, R., Scott, F.W.  2008 Investigation of Chloroform-Methanol Soluble Wheat Proteins and Sphingolipids as Potential Dietary Triggers of Diabetes in BBdp rats. Food and Agricultural Immunology, 19: 25-48.

Barbeau, W.E., Bassaganya-Riera, J., Hontecillas, R. 2007. Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together – a Series of Hypotheses on the Etiology and Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes. Medical Hypotheses 68: 607-619.

Of all the classes he taught through the years, Dr. Barbeau enjoyed Science of Food and Experimental Foods the most.

HNFE 3014 Food, Nutrition, and Wellness Study Tour
HNFE 3234 Science of Food
HNFE 4004 Seminar
HNFE 4254 Experimental Foods
HNFE 5224 Proteins and Enzymes in Foods

Bill, Catherine Cachaper, and Frank Conforti
Bill, Catherine Cachaper, Frank Conforti
Bill at his retirement party!
Bill Barbeau
Bill Barbeau
Bill Barbeau and his last Science of Food class before retiring.

1984,  Ph.D., Food Science, Cornell University
1976,  M.S., Public Health, University of Massachusetts/Amherst
1969, B.A., Chemistry, University of Massachusetts/Boston