Balz Frei

From the Director

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

Linus Pauling Institute investigators have been in the news lately. One study that received considerable media attention was conducted by Dr. Maret Traber (see the article). Dr. Traber and her group tested the absorption of supplemental vitamin E compared to vitamin E-fortified breakfast cereal. Vitamin E from a 400 I.U. pill taken with a glass of milk was barely detectable in the blood, and the effect of a 400 I.U. pill taken with a serving of plain wheat cereal was inconsistent. In contrast, cereal fortified with 30 I.U. vitamin E was 5-fold better than the 30 I.U. pill, and cereal fortified with 400 I.U. was 25-fold better. Dr. Traber concluded that "vitamin E pills must be taken with a meal, such as dinner, to be effective."

In January, LPI's Dr. Tory Hagen was featured on The web site discussed Dr. Hagen's groundbreaking work on the prevention of age-related declines in mitochondrial and cellular function by dietary lipoic acid and carnitine. These supplements increased the energy level and dramatically improved short-term memory in rats. Efforts are now under way to investigate whether lipoic acid and carnitine can help extend lifespan, and whether the beneficial effects observed in rats also apply to humans.

Jung SuhLPI also graduated its first Ph.D. student ever. Jung Suh, now Dr. Suh, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis entitled "Antioxidant mechanisms of ascorbate and (R)-alpha-lipoic acid: aging and transition metal ion-mediated oxidative stress." Jung started with me as a graduate student at Boston University and followed me in 1997 to Corvallis when I became the Director of LPI. At the Institute, Jung also worked with Dr. Hagen, who served as his co-Major Professor. Jung is now a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Bruce Ames at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Both Dr. Hagen and I conducted post-doctoral research under Dr. Bruce Ames, as did Dr. Emily Ho, now a LPI affiliated faculty at Oregon State University. Jung published an astounding ten papers with me as co-author and another five with Dr. Hagen. The latest paper by Drs. Suh and Hagen, entitled "Decline in transcriptional activity of Nrf2 causes age-related loss of glutathione synthesis, which is reversible with lipoic acid," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Kim ThompsonFinally, our long-term development director, Kim Thompson, left LPI earlier this year and assumed a new position as development director for the library at the University of California-Santa Barbara. During her three years with LPI, Kim made very important contributions to the Institute through her tireless and highly successful fund-raising efforts. I very much enjoyed working with her, and everyone here at LPI and many of our loyal donors who met Kim know what a warm and special person she is. We all miss her, but wish her the best in her new position in sunny California.

Last updated May, 2004

Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health

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