The Howard Foundation was established by Dr Alan Howard in 1982 with its main aims being: the construction and maintenance of buildings at Downing College, Cambridge; and to sponsor biomedical research.
The background to the Foundation and the current trustees are shown on the About page. Further details of the work of the Foundation may be found on the Achievements page with current activities shown on the News page.
Recent Biomedical Research
In 1993, the Howard Foundation established a chair in Human Nutrition at the University of Ulster which was held for nine years by Dr David Thurnham. He and Dr Howard looked at the relationship of macular carotenoids with eye health. They identified the potential benefits of Mezo-zeaxanthin.
In 2007, Dr Howard met Professor John Nolan from the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland (WIT) who had been studying the efficacy of the three carotenoids (Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin).
Starting in 2009, the Howard Foundation supported the team at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) at WIT to examine the benefits on visual function, of giving a supplement containing the three macular carotenoids to both healthy adults and people with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Note that WIT is now part of the South East Technological University (SETU) in Ireland.
These studies expanded into other populations, including patients with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. This added omega-3 fatty acids to the carotenoid supplement.
In September 2016, the BBC programme Trust Me, I’m a Doctor featured the work of the NRCI. Click here to see this episode.
This research has led to commercialisation of supplements for eye health (Macuprime in the EU and UK; Macuhealth in North America) and for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (Re-Mind in the EU and Memory Health in the USA).
In March 2023, the patent and trade mark portfolio relating to macular carotenoids was sold to Maravilla, a company formed by the two main commercial partners, IOSA and Macuhealth.
The Publications page provides further explanation of the development of this research into macular carotenoids and lists the most significant papers published to date.
See the page An Interview with Alan Howard for his personal recollections of how this research developed.
Downing College Cambridge
Dr Howard’s association with Downing College Cambridge began in 1948, when he came up to Cambridge as an undergraduate, and continued until his death in 2020. He gained a MA in Natural Sciences and a PhD in Immunology at Downing College followed by training as a nutritionist at the Medical Research Council’s Dunn Nutritional Laboratory, also in Cambridge.
His lifelong research interests were in the field of nutrition, initially in the nutritional relationships associated with coronary heart disease and the treatment of obesity, and latterly into eye and brain nutrition. His inventions and patents related to Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) was commercialised as The Cambridge Diet and this enabled him to establish the Howard Foundation.
The Foundation has made significant donations to Downing College Cambridge, including the funding of three major buildings: the Howard Building (shown below), the Howard Lodge and the Howard Theatre. See the page Howard Buildings at Downing College.
See the Biography of Dr Howard for further details of Dr Howard’s career.