Helmut Sies, M.D., a pioneer in the study of carotenoids and flavonoids, was awarded the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research, one of the leading honors of its type in the world.
This was the seventh time the award has been made, which recognizes excellence in research relating to the roles of vitamins, essential minerals and phytochemicals in promoting health, and preventing or treating disease. It was presented at the Diet and Optimum Health conference in Oregon, and includes a medal and $25,000 honorarium.
Sies, a physician and biochemist at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf in Germany, has more than 600 original research articles and book chapters on many topics in nutrition and cancer prevention. In a landmark 1985 publication he first coined the term "oxidative stress."
Sies is a leader in the study of carotenoids in plants that can give them the ability to help protect the skin and other organs from cancer-causing free radicals, and flavonoids in cocoa that improve blood vessel function and reduce cardiovascular risk.
"Dr. Sies helped explain how some of the carotenoids and flavonoids found in vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots can help prevent the oxidation or cell damage from free radicals, which is an important causal factor of cancer and many other human diseases," said Balz Frei, professor and head of the Linus Pauling Institute, located at Oregon State University.
"Research on nutrition, phytochemicals and optimal diet is truly global, and it’s an honor for us to present Dr. Sies this award as the first international recipient of the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research," Frei said.
Sies has also done important work with essential fatty acids that can prevent inflammation, cellular signaling pathways in cancer development, and the role of nitric oxide in cancer- and heart disease-related events. His colleagues also cited him for bringing his findings out of the laboratory and into public awareness to "enhance public health and reduce suffering from disease," which is one of the criteria on which this award is based.
"Helmut has built a bridge between nutrition science and health sciences," said Enrique Cadenas, professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California. "Helmut’s work transcended the scientific community to the general public, addressing health issues driven by diet and lifestyle."