DSM honors professors for vitamin D research

by Jeff Gelski
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HEERLEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Royal DSM N.V. has awarded its DSM Nutrition Award 2009 for research on human nutrition jointly to Michael F. Holick, a professor of molecular medicine at Boston University in Boston, and Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, a professor at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Both were chosen for research on vitamin D.

"Over the past decade the understanding of vitamin D has extended beyond its well-established effects on bone metabolism to encompass vitamin D needs in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, immunological disorders and certain forms of cancer," said Manfred Eggersdorfer, senior vice-president of Research & Development for DSM Nutritional Products and chair of the judging committee. "The award winners have made major contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrition in human health."

Dr. Holick’s research has focused on the understanding of the formation of vitamin D in the skin, the regulation of vitamin D absorption in the gut, and the metabolism and activation of vitamin D by the liver and the kidney. He also established evidence that most human populations have a limited capacity to form vitamin D by sun exposure, thus resulting in a need for an adequate supply of vitamin D through diet and dietary supplements.

Dr. Bischoff-Ferrari is director of the Centre on Aging and Mobility at the Department of Rheumatology and the Institute of Physical Medicine at the University of Zurich. Her research has focused on the effects of vitamin D in the field of population health and vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the elderly. She has demonstrated the role of vitamin D in assuring muscle strength and bone health to prevent falls and fractures.

Dr. Bischoff-Ferrari and Dr. Holick will share a cash prize of €50,000 ($75,000). The DSM Nutrition Award, part of the company’s Innovation Awards Program, is granted every two years and alternates between the fields of human and animal nutrition.

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