From the Director

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

Photo of Balz Frei

The Linus Pauling Institute continues to make good progress in its research and education efforts to improve human health and longevity through nutrition. In addition to the many ongoing research studies and the peer-reviewed publications resulting from these studies (see articles inside), LPI scientists and affiliated faculty at Oregon State University give talks and seminars around the country and abroad, serve on national advisory boards and peer-review committees, and organize scientific meetings. LPI Principal Investigator Dr. Maret Traber will chair a conference on antioxidants in Colorado in 2001, and I will chair the Gordon Research Conference on Oxygen Radicals in Biology in Ventura, California, in February 2000. In addition, we are planning a major conference in the year 2001 in celebration of Linus Pauling's 100th birthday. More on that conference in a upcoming issue of the Newsletter.

Over the summer, several scholars spent a few months in the Institute pursuing research projects in our laboratories. Dr. Maria Izquierdo-Pulido from the University of Barcelona, Spain, spent three months in the laboratory of LPI Principal Investigator Dr. Rod Dashwood researching the ability of whole grains (oats, refined wheat, and various grades of whole wheat) to bind dietary mutagens (substances causing alterations to the genetic material and, thus, potentially cancer). It is known that various dietary fibers, when isolated from cereals, bind mutagens and thereby limit their uptake into the body. Dr. Izquierdo-Pulido found that, in general, unprocessed whole grains were less effective than isolated fiber in binding mutagens, but, when the grain was treated under simulated gut conditions, increased mutagen binding was observed.

I had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Francesco Visioli from the University of Milan, Italy, who was in my laboratory on a fellowship from the International Atherosclerosis Society. During his fellowship, Dr. Visioli discovered that artery wall cells supplemented with vitamin C or lipoic acid (an antioxidant used in Europe in the management of diabetes and available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement) produce more of a compound call nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays a critical role in inhibiting atherosclerosis (thickening of arterial walls) and lowering the risk of angina pectoris (chest pain), heart attacks, and stroke. Dr. Visioli's findings explain clinical observations in heart disease patients who benefited form vitamin C supplementation and suggest that lipoic acid may be used in the prevision and treatment of heart disease.

We also recently implemented our LPI student fellowship program.  Each Principal Investigator in the Institute was asked to nominate an outstanding graduate student in his or her laboratory. The fellowships provide tuition and stipend for two years; a research allowance for books, computers, and other materials; trips to two national scientific conferences; and a special residency at the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers in the OSU Valley Library to learn more about the life and accomplishments of our Institute's founder.  Alex Michels, Angela Mastaloudis, Zhen Yu, and Jung Suh are the OSU students awarded LPI fellowships. Congratulations!

In the next months, we will also initiate an international search for an additional faculty member in the LPI. Over the past two years, we have received numerous and, oftentimes, substantial bequests from deceased LPI donors, which have made it possible to endow a faculty position. We want to recruit a senior faculty member of considerable stature in his or her field and a strong background and interest in the role of nutrition, particularly vitamins and dietary microconstituents, in neurodegenerative or immune function diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic inflammation, and allergies. I will update you on the progress of our search in the next Newsletter.

Last, but not least, I am very pleased to report that the LPI is one of five Oregon institutions to be awarded a 5-year grant from the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health. These five institutions constitute the newly created Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders (ORCCAMIND), based at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. As an ORCCAMIND member institution, LPI will play an important role in advising the Center, directing educational efforts, and conducting basic research. As its name suggests, ORCCAMIND will focus on research involving alternative and orthomolecular therapies for neurodegenerative disorders. The project for which I will act as Principal Investigator will examine the role of ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, and other antioxidants in treating Alzheimer's disease, using an appropriate mouse model. Other projects within the Center will determine the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba, fatty acids, and vitamin E in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease in patients. Two major goals of the Center will be to provide scientific data in support of complementary and orthomolecular treatments and to increase collaboration between the conventional and alternative medicine communities.

Last updated November, 1999

Honoring a Scientific Giant with Nutritional Research Toward Longer, Better Lives

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