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Research Newsletter-Fall/Winter 2006

Jane Higdon (1958-2006): In Memoriam

The Linus Pauling Institute mourns the loss of Jane Higdon, Ph.D., who died in a bicycle accident near Eugene, Oregon, on May 31, 2006. Jane began working at LPI as a research associate in 2000. She developed and managed the LPI Micronutrient Information Center (MIC), which is a premier online resource for up-to-date, scientifically accurate, and peer-reviewed information on micronutrients, phytochemicals, and other constituents of the diet. The MIC features 54 articles written by Jane over the last six years, including sections on the 13 vitamins, nutritionally relevant minerals, vegetables, fruit, coffee, tea, lipoic acid, carnitine, coenzyme Q10, and phytochemicals like carotenoids, flavonoids, and chlorophyll. The sections on vitamins and minerals were published in 2003 in Jane's book, An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals: Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations. Jane's second volume, An Evidence-based Approach to Dietary Phytochemicals, will be published by Thieme Medical Publishers in late 2006.

Jane earned an A.B. in human biology from Stanford University, a nursing degree from Pace University, and two degrees from Oregon State University: a master's in exercise physiology and a doctorate in nutrition. With this diverse background and exceptionally broad knowledge, she was perfectly equipped to create the MIC. She contributed many articles to the LPI Research Newsletter on topics such as cruciferous vegetables, osteoporosis, tea, and how to choose a multivitamin/mineral supplement. She also co-authored a number of original scientific papers on fish oil supplementation in postmenopausal women and several comprehensive review articles, including two published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "Tea catechins and polyphenols: health effects, metabolism, and antioxidant functions" (2003) and "Coffee and health: a review of recent human research" (2006). The tea article has been widely cited in the scientific literature. Jane was prized at LPI for her compassionate responses to thousands of questions from the public about the role of micronutrients in health and disease.

An accomplished scholar, Jane was also highly regarded for her competitive athleticism. She spent many hours swimming, bicycling, and competing in marathons and triathlons and especially enjoyed summer bicycling vacations in Europe with her husband. Jane was truly a paragon of health who lived by her own advice: eat a healthful diet and get plenty of exercise.

Memorial services were held in Eugene and Corvallis, Oregon, in June. Many of her sporting companions spoke about her perfectionism and desire to be the best that she could be, and her colleagues in the Linus Pauling Institute and Oregon State University praised her for her exceptional scholastic talents. Dr. Balz Frei of LPI recalled her as "unusually intelligent, committed, compassionate, and truly remarkable." Dr. Tony Wilcox, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, cited her unassuming, thoughtful, disciplined, and exuberant nature. Steve Lawson of LPI praised her as earnest, extremely competent, reliable, knowledgeable, and skeptical, "an excellent quality in a scientist." Jane was a cherished member of LPI whose legacy is embodied in the outstanding achievement of the popular and highly regarded Micronutrient Information Center. LPI has created The Jane V. Higdon Memorial Fund to endow the MIC and continue the tradition of excellence established by Jane Higdon. She is survived by her husband, Tom Jefferson; her parents; two brothers; and four sisters.

Last updated November, 2006