Connie Weaver, Ph.D., an alumna of Oregon State University and one of the world's leading experts on dietary calcium, its role in bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis, was awarded the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research on September 15, 2011.
The award is one of the most significant in the field of diet and nutrition, recognizing excellence in research and successful efforts to disseminate new knowledge to the public and the health profession.
The honor is made by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and Weaver was recognized at the biennial conference on Diet and Optimum Health held at OSU on September 13-15, 2011.
Weaver, a distinguished professor and head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University, received both bachelor's and master's degrees in nutrition from OSU in the early 1970s, and has been recognized with multiple honors as she revolutionized the understanding of calcium in bone health, the importance of building bone mass during adolescence, the problem of bone loss in postmenopausal women and ways to help prevent osteoporosis.
"Dr. Weaver's work in the field of calcium metabolism is extraordinary," said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. "She not only did outstanding original research and developed novel technologies to study the role of calcium in bone health, but also helped take that knowledge to the national stage and inform our current dietary reference intakes for calcium. Her work in turning good science into good public policy has helped prevent osteoporosis for millions of people, reducing suffering from bone fractures and improving health all over the world.
"Part of what we recognize with the LPI Prize for Health Research is taking that extra step, not only expanding our knowledge base, but implementing that knowledge and making a true difference in people's lives."
Weaver is also director of the Botanical Center for Age Related Diseases at Purdue University and deputy director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute, both funded by the National Institutes of Health. She received her doctorate in nutrition from Florida State University.
Osteoporosis is a major health problem around the world, and health care costs related to hip fractures alone exceed $17 billion a year in the United States. Weaver has explored such issues as dietary alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy, models to study calcium kinetics and bone strength and dietary factors that enhance or inhibit calcium absorption.
The Linus Pauling Institute is a "center of excellence," so designated by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.