2018: Richard A. Anderson, PhD, CNS, MACN
Dr. Anderson is the 11th recipient of the ASN McCormick Science Institute Research Award. He received his PhD from Iowa State University and he did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. He then accepted a position as a Lead Scientist at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center where he worked on the nutritional and biochemical roles of chromium and cinnamon in human and animal nutrition. His work on the beneficial effects of trivalent chromium on glucose and insulin metabolism led to collaborative studies on the role of herbs and spices in glucose and insulin metabolism, inflammation, antioxidant status, cancer, and brain function. His collaborative studies demonstrated that consumption of 1g or less of cinnamon per day improved blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides of subjects with type 2 diabetes. Similar effects were observed with a water extract of cinnamon in people with the metabolic syndrome with additional beneficial effects on blood pressure, body composition and antioxidant status. Addition of cinnamon to the diet of animals receiving a high fat/high fructose diet alleviated behaviour effects including increased anxiety and improved the effects on brain insulin signalling and changes in mRNA and protein of factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease including tau and amyloid precursor protein. An extract of cinnamon was also shown to not only prevent but also reverse tau aggregation in the brain of a person that died with Alzheimer’s disease. His team also demonstrated a protective role of a purified dietary cinnamon polyphenol, cinnamtannin D1, in a cell culture model of ischemic stroke. In summary, team studies of Dr Anderson demonstrate that cinnamon may be important in the preservation of proper insulin function and the prevention and alleviation of risk factors of the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and related diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, some forms of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.