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Southampton professor awarded prestigious Hagler Fellowship

Professor Philip Calder has been awarded an international fellowship to expand the study of fatty acids.

The Hagler Fellowship, awarded by Texas A&M University, will allow him to set up a new collaborative research programme in the USA.

Prof Calder works within the Nutrition, Lifestyle and Metabolism theme at the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. He was awarded one of only fourteen Hagler Fellowships for 2023-24.

The fellowship will fund a research programme at Texas A&M, in collaboration with researchers in its School of Medicine. This will investigate handling and metabolism of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids by the human body.

Maximising the health benefits

Eating more omega-3, found in oily fish, has been linked to various health benefits and a reduced risk of disease. Yet most people eat a diet high in omega-6, but low in omega-3.

Humans can make the type of omega-3 found in fish, but most people are not able to do this very well. Understanding more about why people are not able to make these types of omega-3 themselves and identifying ways to overcome this will decrease reliance on fish.

A prestigious fellowship

The Hagler Fellowship programme has been running for 12 years, and has supported over 125 fellows.

Fellowships for 2023-24 were awarded in a wide range of research fields. These covered medical research areas, such as nutrition and metabolism. They included scientific fields, such as biology, physics, chemical engineering and computer science. Some fellowships were also awarded in statistics, veterinary science, economics and educational policy.

This round’s fellows include two Nobel Prize winners, Eric Maskin and Konstantin Novoselov. Both won the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 2007 and 2010 respectively.

A great opportunity

Apart from Prof Calder and Konstantin Novoselov, all new fellows were from the US.

Prof Calder says, “I am staggered by this unsolicited award, that recognises the excellent research done by people in my team over many years.

"The fellowship provides a great opportunity for me to develop new collaborations. I intend to use it to investigate the metabolism and handling of omega-3 fatty acids and to try to identify ways to promote production of these healthy fatty acids in the human body.

"This will very much complement our work here in Southampton.”

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