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Lei Cong

PhD Candidate
Food Science

Lei Cong Profile Photo


Ext (470) 5753
Location AppSci, 108

Chinese consumers’ perceptions of the benefits of functional foods to combat the impact of air pollution on the immune system

Supervised by  Professor Phil Bremer and Dr Miranda Mirosa


Lei comes from Yantai in China. Her education background focuses on Food Science and Technology, obtaining an M.Eng. (Research) from Shanghai Ocean University (China) and a B. Eng. from Shandong University of Technology (China). During her graduate studies, Lei spent a summer as a visiting student in the Marine Bio-products Technology Laboratory at Kyoto University, Japan. Before arriving in New Zealand to start her PhD in 2016, she worked for more than five years as an administrator in a joint-venture university, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), focusing on programme quality assurance and research administration.

Lei came to NZ with her husband and her 3-year old daughter. Lei really enjoys the lovely nature and peaceful life in Dunedin.

Project Outline

Across China, less than 1% of the population can breathe air that is considered safe (WHO Air Quality Guideline 2006). 47% of Chinese adults have expressed concern about catching incurable diseases through air pollution, while 38% are worried about respiratory diseases.

Lei's research links with a High Value Nutrition, National Science Challenge funded project, working to develop functional foods that can combat the adverse impacts on air pollution on the immune system. (

In order to ensure the successful market update of any new food, a deep understanding of the target consumer is required. By truly understanding the priorities of Chinese consumers, we will both help focus the Immune defence research platform investments on consumer-relevant biomarkers, as well as empowering New Zealand food and beverage providers to address real market needs.

The overall aim of this thesis research is to investigate Chinese consumers’ perceptions of protecting the immune system against the impact of air pollution, and the subsequent influence of these perceptions on consumers’ willingness to pay for relevant functional foods. A combination of consumer research techniques, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies, will be used to explore these issues.


Lei Cong, Xi-Chang Wang, Yuan Liu, Ying Lu. 'Research Progress on Tetrodotoxin Immunoassays'. Food Science (China), 2009, 30(19): 327-330

Lei Cong, Xi-Chang Wang, Yuan Li, Ying Lu. 'Preparation of Tetrodotoxin Immunogen and Establishment of Characterization System'. Chinese Journal of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2010, 32(6):491-494