As I was sitting in his office listening to him speak, it occurred to me that Dr. Fred Stevens, Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at OSU and one of LPI's Principal Investigators, is a very patient man. He has to be. He was explaining how vitamin C reacts with and neutralizes the toxic byproducts of human fat metabolism and, for my benefit, he was going slowly, trying to make sure that I understood the amazingly complex chemical processes involved.
The discovery of this heretofore unknown vitamin C chemistry is a remarkable achievement by Dr. Stevens, Dr. Balz Frei, and other researchers here at the Linus Pauling Institute that sheds more light on the role that vitamin C plays in helping to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and autoimmune disorders. Earlier this year Dr. Stevens received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), enabling him to expand his research in this area.
Despite Dr. Stevens' best efforts, I still don't completely understand the chemical reactions between vitamin C and oxidized fat. But I do know that this discovery significantly expands our understanding of the many different ways that vitamin C works in the human body.
This discovery highlights two important issues. First, there is still much we don't know about how the body uses vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. Second, the financial support the Institute receives from our supporters is absolutely critical in furthering our research. One year ago, Dr. Stevens received a $20,000 pilot project grant from LPI for this preliminary study.
The money for that grant was given to the Institute by people like you. The results from that preliminary study led to the $1.5 million grant from the NIH. Dr. Stevens' work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, and he wrote an article for the Spring/Summer 2005 LPI Research Report. As is evident with Dr. Stevens' work, the potential implications of the research we conduct at the Linus Pauling Institute are significant. And the research projects our Principal Investigators are working on are very exciting.
Dr. Emily Ho is studying the relationship between prostate cancer and zinc. Her studies have determined that there is a link between reduced levels of zinc and an increased risk of prostate cancer in laboratory animals. Dr. Tammy Bray, who is also the Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, is looking at diabetes and the role that vitamin C plays in promoting wound healing. She has developed a vitamin C ointment and is using it to treat wounds in diabetic laboratory animals. Dr. David Williams is testing his hypothesis that a cause of some childhood cancers is the trans-placental transfer of certain carcinogens from the mother to her fetus and that diet and nutrition might play a role in helping to prevent the transfer of those toxins.
The scientists here at LPI are working on dozens of projects like these, and while the initial results of many of these pre-clinical research studies are promising, more work needs to be done.
That is where you come in. Unfortunately, funding from the federal government for this kind of research is becoming more restricted. The donations that we receive from you and our many supporters are critical to provide the essential resources we need to follow-up on the work mentioned above as well as to pursue research opportunities that no one else is investigating.
One of the easiest ways to provide for the Institute is to include LPI in your will or estate plan. There are numerous ways that you can help make a difference, either through a direct bequest, a charitable gift annuity, or a charitable trust. For more information about how to include LPI in your estate plan, or if you would like to know more about the research projects we are working on, please don't hesitate to contact me either by phone or email.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to my next "lesson" from Professor Stevens. Hopefully, by the time you call, I will be able to talk to you about vitamin C conjugates, oxidized lipids, and genotoxins.
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Last updated June, 2006