From the Director


Balz Frei, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics
Director and Endowed Chair
Linus Pauling Institute

The Linus Pauling Institute will hold its second international conference, "Diet and Optimum Health," on May 21-24, 2003, in Portland, Oregon. The conference will focus primarily on the latest research on the roles of vitamins, micronutrients, and phytochemicals in disease prevention and treatment and will feature many prominent speakers in the areas of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, eye diseases, diabetes, and aging. Of particular interest is the free public session on Saturday, May 24, with popular talks on how foods, supplements, and botanicals, as well as lifestyle modifications, can help prevent cancer, obesity, and other health problems. Another highlight of the conference will be the award banquet for the second "LPI Prize for Health Research." The Prize, consisting of $50,000 and a medal, recognizes innovation and excellence in research relating to the roles of diet and micronutrients in human health and disease and aims to stimulate original research in these areas. Please find a detailed program of the conference in this newsletter. 

The LPI held its annual retreat in August, a two-day event where our laboratory groups present their work and future research directions and goals are discussed. It was gratifying to see that the Institute continues to thrive and has grown substantially over the last six years since it relocated from California to Oregon State University. We now have over 50 people, including 7 faculty, at LPI, and many graduate students are earning master's and doctoral degrees for research conducted at LPI under the guidance of our faculty. Research productivity has grown from 8 scientific publications in 1998 to 49 in the first eight months of this year alone. The research funding for the Institute from the U.S. National Institutes of Health has increased six-fold over the same period and now accounts for a very substantial percentage of total NIH funds awarded to OSU. The research published by LPI faculty is heavily cited by our peers, with an average of over 3,000 citations per faculty over the past decade, a sure sign that our work is influential. 

In my introductory remarks at the retreat, I discussed the relevance of the LPI mission to prevent and treat chronic disease by diet and lifestyle vis-à-vis the current excitement regarding the human genome project. While it is true that genomics research will lead to a better understanding and treatment of a number of diseases, the big killers in the U.S.—heart disease, cancer, and stroke—are largely preventable by a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. Thus, while we are all born with a certain genetic predisposition to disease, whether and when in our lifetime this predisposition will be expressed as disease is very much dependent on how we live and what we consume. For example, in a recent Science article Harvard's Walter Willett, one of the most prominent nutrition researchers in the world, estimated that 70% of colon cancers and stroke, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 90% of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. are preventable. How? By maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, and a good diet consisting of a low intake of saturated and trans fat, low glycemic load, limited red meat intake, and adequate intake of unsaturated fat, fish, cereal fiber, and fruits and vegetables. The challenge is to make the medical community as well as the public more aware of these crucial links between diet, lifestyle, and health and, equally important, to change behavior. I hope that our research and education efforts at LPI and the information in the LPI Newsletter and the Micronutrient Information Center help you make the right diet and lifestyle decisions—it's vital!

Last updated November, 2002

Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health

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