Monday, March 2, 2020

Graham C. Burdge named new editor-in-chief of Lipids

University of Southampton Professor Graham C. Burdge succeeded Eric Murphy as Editor-in-Chief of Lipids on March 1. The April issue of INFORM magazine will contain “A Conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of Lipids” to help AOCS members get to know the new Editor-in-Chief.

Until the April issue arrives, you can preview the conversation in the excerpt below. Welcome, Graham!

A conversation with the new Editor-in-Chief of Lipids

Earlier this year, Graham Burdge, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK, became the seventh Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of Lipids.
A look at the new EIC’s CV indicates that Lipids is in good hands. The journal’s EIC graduated in Cell and Immunobiology from Aberystwyth University, earned a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, and did his postdoctoral work on phospholipid and polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism. He was the first to show that men and women differ in their ability to synthesize longer chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and differ in docosahexaenoic acid status. More recently, he identified the role of polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in regulating T cell function and evaluated the effectiveness of a transgenic plant oil as a replacement for oily fish in the human diet.

Burdge’s research is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the European Union, the Research Council of Norway, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and by industrial organizations. He has published over 200 peer reviewed articles well as chapters in academic books and briefing documents and reports to the UK government. He is an experienced editor, having as the Editor-In-Chief of the British Journal of Nutrition, the Journal of Nutritional Science, and Nutrition Research Reviews, and as an editor of books on epigenetics, nutrition and health, and polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism. Since the new EIC is a new face for many members, Inform held the following conversation to learn more about him and his goals for the journal.

Q: In your early work as a postdoc, you were the first to show that men and women differ in their docosahexaenoic acid status as well as their ability to synthesize longer chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Where did you get the idea to explore metabolic differences between the sexes?

A: There is a tendency for nutritionists, and biochemists in particular (I am both), to exclude females from experiments on the basis that their hormonal cycles make generation of reproducible data too difficult. This may lead to important biological insights being missed.  At the time those experiments were carried out, it was known that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentration increased during pregnancy in women and rats, and that sex hormones could modify arachidonic acid concentration in rat liver.  We had shown already that men didn’t make much DHA from alpha-linolenic acid and so it seemed an obvious to ask the question, “Is polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism different in women of reproductive age compared to men?”

Q: What major advances to you foresee in the field of lipid science during the next 10 years?

A: Interesting question. To have a sense of how the field might develop, it is important to identify the factors that may drive the evolution of lipid science. To give an example, I would not have predicted the explosion of research on epigenetics, which has changed from being a niche area of research a decade or so ago, to an area of intense activity.  I was privileged to be part of some of the early studies demonstrating that epigenetics could explain how the environment can induce persistent changes in phenotype. My prediction for the next phase in lipid science is that the biotechnologists will find ways to manipulate lipid metabolism in plants and animals, to improve their nutritional quality, to feed the increasing global population, and to ameliorate the effects of man-made climate collapse by developing crops that thrive in an increasingly hostile environment.  For example, the technology already exists to replace oily fish with seed oil from bioengineered plants that contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and so potentially reduce the burden of wild capture on marine ecosystems. But, I suspect when we look back 10 years from now, we’ll see that the course of lipid science was surprising.

The full conversation will appear in the April issue of INFORM.

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