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7 February 2011

Stephen S Chang Award for 2011

Member Colin Ratledge, Emeritus Professor in Biological Sciences in the University of Hull, UK, has been awarded the prestigious Stephen S Chang Award for 2011 by the American Oil Chemists' Society.

The Award is to recognize basic research work that has made a significant and distinctive contribution for the commercial development or improvement to products related to lipids.

Professor Ratledge's research has provided a singular and outstanding contribution to understanding the biochemistry and molecular biology of the process by which selected microorganisms, yeasts, fungi and algae, synthesize and accumulate oils, some of which reach over 70% of the cell biomass.

The research work has been used by numerous companies around the world to develop oils containing very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) that are incorporated into infant formulas. These oils and the supplemented infant formulas are now sold in over 70 countries (including the UK). The PUFAs are nutritionally very important for the newly-born infant as they improve both memory and eyesight. Hitherto, these PUFAs were absent from formula milk preparations but were present in mother's milk, hence the need to add them as supplements to infant formulas. Some of the microbial oils are also used for adult nutrition. None of these PUFAs were easily obtainable from alternative sources. In addition, there is now considerable interest in using some of the microbial oils as sources of biofuels, particularly for biodiesel production.

Further information and details may be obtained from Professor Ratledge: c.ratledge@hull.ac.uk

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