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Research Newsletter-Spring/Summer 2006

From the Director



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

As you look at this issue of the Linus Pauling Institute newsletter, you may notice that we changed the name from "Research Report" to "Research Newsletter." The reason for this change is that we think Research Newsletter more accurately reflects its content — articles on recent research progress in the Linus Pauling Institute written primarily for our donors and other interested, health-conscious members of the public. After changing the name from "LPI Newsletter" to "LPI Research Report" and now "LPI Research Newsletter," we intend to stick with this new name!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of LPI at Oregon State University. In the summer of 1996, the Institute, then called the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, moved from Palo Alto, California, to Corvallis, Oregon. I wasn't part of the Institute back then and only joined as director a year later, but LPI members Stephen Lawson and Distinguished Professor George Bailey, among other researchers and administrators at OSU, vividly remember the Herculean effort it took to move the Institute and all its assets from the San Francisco Bay Area to OSU. The Institute has blossomed in the last ten years. With strong support from the University and our donors, we have grown from one laboratory and Principal Investigator with about $300,000 in annual extramural research funding to ten laboratories and Principal Investigators with about $3 million in research funding, primarily from the National Institutes of Health. The annual number of LPI scientific publications also has increased substantially, from 7 in 1997 to 47 in 2005. With this growth, we greatly expanded our research scope, which now includes heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, and aging, while remaining faithful to our mission to elucidate the function of micronutrients and other dietary and lifestyle factors in health promotion and disease prevention.

Coincidentally with LPI's 10th anniversary at OSU, this year we also mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Linus Pauling's most popular — and arguably most influential — book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better. To celebrate this occasion, OSU Press will publish a 20th anniversary edition of the book in May. Although the science has progressed and new relevant findings have emerged over the last 20 years, we decided to leave the text of the book unchanged, as it represents the ideas and opinions of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. Not surprisingly, many of Pauling's ideas were well ahead of their time and remain topical to this day. In addition to a new introduction, the book features an afterword and some annotations. In the afterword, we refer to the Institute's extensive online Micronutrient Information Center, which provides updated information on the biological functions and health benefits of micronutrients, phytochemicals, and other constituents of the diet.

Finally, I am pleased to report to you that LPI scientists have been successful in securing four major research grants earlier this year. Professor Joseph Beckman, who is the Ava Helen Pauling Chair, together with OSU Chemistry Professors Max Deinzer and Douglas Barofsky, obtained a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. Their goal is to develop a new "electron capture tandem mass spectrometer" that will allow them to investigate the role of specific proteins in cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease. LPI Principal Investigator Fred Stevens secured an individual research grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the role of vitamin C in neutralizing lipid oxidation products that have been implicated in heart disease and cancer. Dr. Stevens also was awarded a second grant from NIH to acquire another mass spectrometer, called a "hybrid triple quadrupole linear ion trap mass spectrometer," to enhance the Institute's research programs in age-related inflammatory diseases. Additionally, LPI Principal Investigator Maret Traber obtained a grant from NIH to investigate the regulation of biochemical pathways in the liver involved in the metabolism of vitamin E. Two critical questions that Professor Traber will address are how these pathways affect the metabolism of pharmaceutical drugs and how vitamin E supplements can be used with optimal benefits for human health without lowering the effectiveness of conventional drug treatments.

Congratulations to Drs. Traber, Beckman, and Stevens for being awarded these large research grants, which, together with the support from our generous donors, are critical in sustaining and expanding the Institute's research efforts.

Last updated June, 2006