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Prof Philip Calder


Professor of Nutritional Immuniology

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Philip Calder is Head of the School of Human Development and Health in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton. He is an internationally recognized researcher on the metabolism and functionality of fatty acids, with an emphasis on the roles of omega-3 fatty acids, and on the influence of diet and nutrients on the immune and inflammatory responses

His research addresses both life course and translational considerations and includes research in cell and animal models and in healthy humans and patients. He has received many awards and prizes for his work including the prestigious Danone International Prize for Nutrition (2016) and the DSM Lifetime Achievement Prize in Human Nutrition (2017). 

Professor Calder has served as President of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) and President of the Nutrition Society. He is currently President of the Federation of European Nutrition Societies. Professor Calder was previously Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Nutrition and is currently an Associate Editor of Journal of Nutrition, Clinical Science, Nutrition Research and Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Landmark publications:

1. Grimble, R.F., Howell, W.M., O'Reilly, G., Turner, S.J., Markovic, O., Hirrell, S., East, J.M. and Calder, P.C., The ability of fish oil to suppress tumor necrosis factor-production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in healthy men is associated with polymorphisms in genes that influence tumor necrosis factor production. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76, 2002, 454-459.

2. Thies, F., Garry, J.M.C., Yaqoob, P., Rerkasem, K., Williams, J., Shearman, C.P., Gallagher, P.J., Calder, P.C. and Grimble, R.F., Association of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with stability of atherosclerotic plaques: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 361, 2003, 477-485.

3. Kew, S., Banerjee, T., Minihane, A.M., Finnegan, Y.E., Williams, C.M. and Calder, P.C., Relation between the fatty acid composition of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and measures of immune cell function in healthy, free-living subjects aged 25–72 y. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77, 2003, 1278-1286.

4. Rees, D., Miles, E.A., Banerjee, T., Wells, S.J., Roynette, C.E., Wahle, K.W.J.W. and Calder, P.C., Dose-related effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on innate immune function in healthy humans: a comparison of young and older men.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83, 2006, 331-42.

5. Thienprasert, A., Samuhaseneetoo, S., Popplestone, K., West, A.L., Miles, E.A. and Calder, P.C., Fish oil n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids selectively affect plasma cytokines and decrease illness in Thai schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial. Journal of Pediatrics, 154, 2009, 391-395.

6. Tull, S.P., Yates, C.M., Maskrey, B.H., O'Donnell, V.B., Madden, J., Grimble, R.F., Calder, P.C., Nash, G.B. and Rainger, G.E., Omega-3 Fatty acids and inflammation: novel interactions reveal a new step in neutrophil recruitment. PLoS Biology, 2009, 7, e1000177.

7. Barbosa, V.M., Miles, E.A., Calhau, C., Lafuente, E. and Calder, P.C., Effects of a fish oil containing lipid emulsion on plasma phospholipid fatty acids, inflammatory markers, and clinical outcomes in septic patients: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Critical Care, 14, 2010, R5.

8. Cawood, A.L., Ding, R., Napper, F.L., Young, R.H., Williams, J.A., Ward, M.J., Gudmundsen, O., Vige, R., Payne, S.P., Ye, S., Shearman, C.P., Gallagher, P.J., Grimble, R.F. and Calder, P.C., Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from highly concentrated n-3 fatty acid ethyl esters is incorporated into advanced atherosclerotic plaques and higher plaque EPA is associated with decreased plaque inflammation and increased stability. Atherosclerosis, 212, 2010, 252-259.

9. Noakes, P.S., Vlachava, M., Kremmyda, L-S., Diaper, N.D., Miles, E.A., Erlewyn-Lajeunesse, M., Williams, A.P., Godfrey, K.M. and Calder, P.C. Increased intake of oily fish in pregnancy: effects on neonatal immune responses and on clinical outcomes in infants at 6 mo. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95, 2012, 395-404.

10. Browning, L.M., Walker, C.G., Mander, A.P., West, A.L., Madden, J., Gambell, J.M., Young, S., Wang, L., Jebb, S.A. and Calder, P.C. Incorporation of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids into lipid pools when given as supplements providing doses equivalent to typical intakes of oily fish. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96, 2012, 748-758.

11. Scorletti, E., Bhatia, L., McCormick, K.G., Clough, G.F., Nash, K., Hodson, L., Moyses, H.E., Calder, P.C. and Byrne, C.D. on behalf of the WELCOME Study Investigators. Effects of purified eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Results from the *WELCOME study. Hepatology, 60, 2014, 1211-1221.

12. Malan, L., Baumgartner, J., Calder, P.C., Zimmermann, M.B. and Smuts, C.M., n-3 Long-chain PUFAs reduce respiratory morbidity caused by iron supplementation in iron-deficient South African schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101, 2015, 668-679.

13. Jespersen, L., Tarnow, I., Eskesen, D., Morberg, C.M., Michelsen, B., Bügel, S., Dragsted, L.O., Rijkers, G.T. and Calder, P.C., Effect of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei, L. casei 431 on immune response to influenza vaccination and upper respiratory tract infections in healthy adult volunteers: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101, 2015, 1188-1196.

14. Del Bas, J.M., Caimari, A., Rodriguez-Naranjo, M.I., Childs, C.E., Paras Chavez, C., West, A.L., Miles, E.A., Arola, L. and Calder, P.C., Impairment of lysophospholipid metabolism in obesity: altered plasma profile and desensitization to the modulatory properties of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104, 2016, 266-279.

15. Ostermann, A.I., West, A.L., Schoenfeld, K., Browning, L.M., Walker, C.G., Jebb, S.A., Calder, P.C. and Schebb, N.H., Plasma oxylipins respond in a linear dose-response manner with increased intake of EPA and DHA: results from a randomized controlled trial in healthy humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109, 2019, 1251-1263.

16. Scorletti, E., Afolabi, P.R., Miles, E.A., Smith, D.E., Almehmadi, A., Alshathry, A., Childs, C.E., Del Fabbro, S., Beavis, J., Moyses, H.E., Clough, G.F., Sethi, J.K., Patel, J., Wright, M., Breen, D.J., Peebles, C., Darekar, A., Aspinall, R., Fowell, A.J., Dowman, J.K., Nobili, V., Targher, G., Delzenne, N.M., Bindels, L.B., Calder, P.C. and Byrne, C.D., Synbiotics alter fecal microbiomes, but not liver fat or fibrosis, in a randomized trial of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Gastroenterology, 158, 2020, 1597-1610.

17. Butler, C.C., Lau, M., Gillespie, D., Owen-Jones, E., Lown, M., Wootton, M., Calder, P.C., Bayer, A.J., Moore, M., Little, P., Davies, J., Edwards, A., Shepherd, V., Hood, K., Hobbs, F.D.R., Davoudianfar, M., Rutter, H., Stanton, H., Lowe, R., Fuller, R., Francis N.A., Effect of probiotic use on antibiotic administration among care home residents: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 324, 2020, 47-56.

18. Grevengoed, T.J., Trammell, S.A., Svenningsen, J.S., Makarov, M.V., Nielsen, T.S., Jacobsen, J.C.B., Treebak, J.T., Calder, P.C., Migaud, M.E., Cravatt, B.F. and Gillum, M.P., An abundant biliary metabolite derived from dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids regulates triglycerides. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 131, 2021,143861.

Current major grants:

1. Effect of selected micronutrients on immune function. Principal investigator. In vitro research. Funded by Bayer Consumer Healthcare.

2. Personalised advice for weight loss. Principal investigator. Human trial. Funded by European Commission.

3. Effect of vitamin D and probiotics alone and together on immune function in older people. Principal investigator. Human trial. Funded by UK Medical Research Council.

4. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by T cells. Co-investigator. In vitro and human research. Funded by UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

5. Use of oil from genetically modified Camelina sativa to produce functional foods for human health. Human trial. Co-investigator. Funded by UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Impact examples:

Professor Calder has lead research into the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, the mechanisms involved and the application for both public health sand patient benefit. The findings of his research relate to the treatment, mortality rate and economic costs of cardiovascular disease; to clinical practice in and guidelines on cardiovascular disease and parenteral nutrition; to economic benefits through the patenting of the plaque stabilisation by omega-3 fatty acids; and to public health.

Calder’s research resulted in the discovery that omega-3 fatty acids can stabilise atherosclerotic plaques; this is likely to result in fewer cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes) and decreased mortality. This should be considered in the context that one in three of all deaths in the UK is the result of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the economic savings of reducing cardiovascular mortality and morbidity are considerable.

The discovery of plaque stabilisation by omega-3 fatty acids were first described in Calder’s paper in the Lancet in 2003. This paper has attracted over 1000 citations according to Google Scholar and the findings were discussed in the 2011 position paper of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Working Group on Atherosclerosis and Vascular Biology.

Calder directly contributes to the translation of these scientific findings for clinical end-users by giving presentations in many educational and continuing professional development events for health professionals both in the UK and globally. Delegates at such events include GPs, cardiologists, cardiac rehab nurses, pharmacists, surgeons, intensivists and dieticians, with a cumulative audience of many thousands of health professionals, helping to educate them and to translate the research findings into clinical practice.

The discovery of plaque stabilisation by omega-3 fatty acids was patented in 2002. The patent, licensed to Pronova Biocare in 2003, was subsequently granted in a number of European countries and in Australia, providing an intellectual and marketing advantage to the holder and contributing to wealth creation in the private sector. Calder has received further research funding in the area from industry (including direct funding from Pronova Biocare - £300,000 - for follow-up research), from the UK Government sources and from European Commission.

Calder’s research in this area has impacted public health by creating considerable media coverage, contributing to public appreciation and understanding of science. Calder has given a number of interviews for television (Channel Five news, Meridian news, BBC), radio (BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, several regional BBC stations), newspapers (Daily Mail, The Times, Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New York Times, Daily Echo, others), magazines (Mens Health, Good Housekeeping, Bottom Line Health, Consumer Reports on Health, others) and on many websites (e.g. BBC, Irish Independent) as well as in food industry magazines (e.g. NutrIngredients).

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