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Research Newsletter-Fall/Winter 2011

Balz Frei


Balz Frei, Ph.D.
LPI Director and Endowed Chair
OSU Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

To say we had a busy summer and fall at the Linus Pauling Institute would be a vast understatement! In the first week of September, the Institute moved into our new home, the Linus Pauling Science Center. It is a dream come true, 15 years after the Institute arrived on the campus of Oregon State University. The new building, designed by the world-renowned architect firm Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is simply magnificent. The Linus Pauling Institute's top two floors of the Center are connected by a two-story, "cathedralesque" atrium, which provides an independent identity for the Institute. The continuous, open laboratory space, housing the Institute's 15 laboratories and three research programs—Cancer Chemoprotection, Healthy Aging, and Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases—provides flexibility and facilitates collaborations in state-of-the-art facilities. The building maximizes functionality and efficiency and is, at the same time, aesthetically very pleasing with its modern design, ample natural light, straight lines, extensive use of glass and natural wood, and some amazing art work. This, together with the many formal and informal meeting places, provides a first-rate working space that fosters cutting-edge scientific research and development of new ideas and research projects, and greatly enhances the intellectual environment of the Institute. We are truly privileged—and very happy—to be in such fabulous facilities!

Linus Pauling Science Center Laboratory

In September, we also held our sixth Diet and Optimum Health conference on the OSU campus in Corvallis, which allowed us to showcase the new Center. The conference attracted 220 registrants and was very successful, thanks to all the excellent talks and poster presentations. The sixth Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research was awarded to Dr. Connie Weaver, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University and an OSU alumna. Dr. Weaver was honored for her groundbreaking work in human calcium metabolism and bone health, which revolutionized our understanding of the importance of building peak bone mass during adolescence, the factors that contribute to bone loss in postmenopausal women, and dietary and lifestyle factors that help prevent osteoporosis. Summaries of Dr. Weaver's research and all the talks of the conference are provided in this issue of the Newsletter.

Viviana Perez, Ph.D.

We also recently filled a new faculty position in the Institute's Healthy Aging Program with an outstanding candidate, Dr. Viviana Perez, from the Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio. In addition to being a Principal Investigator in the Institute, Dr. Perez holds an Assistant Professor position in OSU's Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Her research focuses on the roles of oxidative stress and protein homeostasis in the aging process and how dietary restriction and rapamycin extend life span, a topic which she addressed in her talk at the Diet and Optimum Health conference. Dr. Perez brings with her a prestigious New Scholar Award in Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation. She received her Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Chile, Santiago.

Giana Angelo, Ph.D.

In addition, we hired a new Research Associate to help maintain and expand the Institute's Micronutrient Information Center (MIC). Dr. Giana Angelo joined us from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Cellular and Molecular Nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, MA, where she did research on vitamin D. Dr. Angelo will be working with Dr. Victoria Drake, MIC Manager, to critically review and synthesize basic, clinical, and epidemiologic research literature in order to update existing articles and write new ones for the MIC. She will also respond to questions from donors, health and nutrition professionals, and the media concerning topics represented in the MIC.

Maret Traber, Ph.D. and Rod Dashwood, Ph.D.

Finally, thanks to a large bequest LPI recently received, we have been able to establish two new endowed Professorships in the Institute. Dr. Maret Traber was selected as the inaugural recipient of the "Helen P. Rumbel Professorship in Micronutrient Research," and Dr. Rod Dashwood for the "Helen P. Rumbel Professorship in Cancer Prevention." A celebration and public announcement took place at the grand opening of the Linus Pauling Science Center on October 14, where Dr. Dashwood presented his work on genetic and epigenetic aspects of cancer development and the protective role of dietary factors, and Dr. Traber talked about the biological functions and value of vitamin E in protecting against oxidative stress. On behalf of everybody in the Institute, I welcome Drs. Perez and Angelo and congratulate Drs. Traber and Dashwood for their well-deserved recognition!

Last updated November 2011