The late Dr Alan Howard, PhD, began studying the effects of carotenoids on eye health over ten years ago. He joined with Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre in Waterford Ireland to conduct scientific research. Having established significant benefits to eye health, Dr Howard instigated further research on the potential effects of carotenoids plus fish oils on the brain. Clinical trials, conducted by Professor Nolan and Professor Riona Mulcahy, have had positive results from patients with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease.
As a result of this research, a patent for the discovery was granted in the UK in 2018 and, on 17th November 2020, the United States Patent Office have granted the application for the “Prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative disease”.
The title page of the US patent grant is show below. For further information on the commercial development resulting from this research, please see www.memoryhealth.com
The November 2020 edition of Ophthalmology Times Europe includes an overview of the work of Profession John Nolan, the Howard Foundation Chair in Human Nutrition Research at the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Professor Nolan has been conducting research into macular pigments for 20 years and has been the Howard Chair since 2016. He began collaboration with Dr Alan Howard in 2009. Alongside his research, he has guided a number of clinical trials to show the benefit of oral supplements to contrast sensitivity and to reducing age-related macular degeneration. His current research is directed towards the treatment and prevention of dementia and cognitive function, particularly for people with Alzheimers disease.
A study by the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), sponsored by the Howard Foundation together with IOSA and WIT, has identified a new formulation that can greatly increase the efficacy of nutritional supplements that are increasingly recognised for their value to eye health.
The study was led by Dr Marina Green-Gomez and supervised by Professor John Nolan, the Howard Chair in Human Nutrition at WIT.
Titled COAST (Carotenoid-Omega Availability STudy), the research compared bioavailability of key carotenoids when they were taken as microcrystals suspended in sunflower or omega-3 oil with a new method of delivery. In the innovative Micro-Micelle formulation, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin travelled more efficiently into the bloodstream, increasing the bioavailability and impact of these carotenoids.
There has been £1,500 raised towards the provision of domestic facilities at the Parish Church of St Mary and St Michael in Trumpington, Cambridge where Dr Howard is buried.
The BBC Radio 4 programme Last Word included a segment on Dr Howard in their broadcasts on 24th and 26th July. Click here to listen. The segment on Dr Howard begins at 21 minutes 45 seconds.
Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland have put together a visual tribute including people associated with Dr Howard in the last decade of his life. The song is The Parting Glass sung by the Irish musician Hozier.
The funeral of Dr Howard is on the 16th July 2020 starting at 1pm BST. The service will be live streamed and can be viewed through the area below. After the funeral, the video of the service will be available through the same area. The restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic mean that the congregation is limited to only 30 invited people and it is not possible for them to sing. Alan wanted the format of the service to follow that of his wife Grace Howard who died in 2008. Alan is to be buried in the same grave. Recordings of the four hymns will be played and during the Ave Verum, the live stream and video will show pictures from Alan’s life.
Dr Alan Howard, founder and chairman of the Howard Foundation, died peacefully on 24 June 2020 at the age of 91.
Born in Norwich in 1929, Alan Howard gained a place at the City of Norwich School where he specialised in Chemistry. In 1948, he won a place at Downing College Cambridge to read Natural Sciences. In the following year he was awarded an exhibition and graduated in 1951. He then worked in the department of medicine and was awarded his PhD in 1955. He continued working at the University until 1992.
Following work on Atherosclerosis and Obesity, he became secretary to the newly formed Obesity Association in 1967. From 1973 to 1979, he worked with others to turn research on helping morbidly obese patients into a product for the public which became the Cambridge Diet. He created the Howard Foundation in 1982 and in 1984 formed the Cambridge Manufacturing Company to market the Cambridge Diet. The business was sold in 2005.
In 1995, Dr Howard began research into Macular Degeneration and the importance of Carotenoids. This led to work with Dr John Nolan and the funding of research at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in Ireland and a recent UK patent on nutritional supplements to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from WIT in October 2019.
The Howard Foundation has made significant donations to Downing College Cambridge and in 2009, Dr Howard was awarded the Chancellors 800th Anniversary Medal for outstanding philanthropy, given by Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace.
Today, the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) made the WIT Honorary Fellowship award to Dr Alan Howard.
WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly, presenting the WIT Honorary Fellowship to Dr Howard, stated: “The Institute accepts recommendations for the award of Honorary Fellowships relating, not only to scholastic endeavours, but also to those activities which enrich our community, or indeed, society as a whole. Dr Alan Howard is a worthy recipient of the WIT Fellowship in each of these categories.”
Click here for further information from the WIT website.
Professor John Nolan, the Howard Chair in Human Nutrition Research at the Waterford Institute of Technology, was honoured at a prestigious awards dinner in New York, held on 12th September 2019. Professor Nolan was named among the 2019 Healthcare & Life Sciences 50 announced by Irish America magazine at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan. The list celebrates excellence by Irish and Irish-American leaders in fields such as medical care; pharmaceuticals; biotechnology; medical devices; research and development and life sciences venture capital.
Professor Nolan is founder and director of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI). He is also the Principal Investigator of the Macular Pigment Research Group (a specialised group within this centre). The NRCI is part of the School of Health Science at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Carriganore campus, where the Howard Foundation UK has invested in research infrastructure, people and studies.
Presenting the awards, Patricia Harty, editor, Irish America, said: “Professor Nolan is an inspiration to all of us. His work is truly revolutionary, especially in the area of nutritional supplementation for visual function. He and the others we recognise and celebrate with our Healthcare & Life Sciences 50 do incredible work with huge positive impacts on the lives of countless people around the world. ”
Christine Mayer, editor-in-chief stated, “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research is excited to publish this special issue titled ‘Nutrition for the Eye and Brain’. The individual contributions have been selected by the enthusiastic guest editor, Prof. John Nolan. Together, we feel that this issue will help to bring these exciting topics into the wider community of food and nutrition scientists and to inspire collaborations and spark new approaches in nutrition-driven eye and brain research.“
In the issue’s editorial, which he dedicated to Dr. Alan Howard of the Howard Foundation, Prof. Nolan wrote: “When we speak about nutrition for the eye and brain, the default will be to provide advice and recommendations in support of good nutrition, healthy eating, a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle, and so on. While all of the above is the standard for good advice, science now suggests that we can be more specific. For example, we can now measure the macro- and micronutrients that have been identified in the eye and brain. ”
The front cover of the special issue features a digital recreation of artwork titled “Enter,” which has a special backstory: this work was created by artist Marilyn Robinson,who had previously heard Prof. Nolan deliver a guest lecture in Colorado, USA.
The next BON conference will be held in July 2021.