Opera in the Howard Theatre

For three nights, from 26 to 28 October, the Howard Theatre hosted its first opera since the theatre opened in 2010. The opera was Handel’s Semele, performed by the Cambridge University Opera Society together with the Downing College Music Society.

This opera is rarely performed. In his review, William Hale says “Director Max Mason wisely did not adopt a togas-and-tunics look, instead staging the piece in modern dress.  Semele may deal in part with gods and goddesses but they are motivated by very human urges, and these come through wherever the characters find themselves and whatever they are wearing.

Click here to read his full review.

The title role was sung by Ailsa McTernan with James Gant, Hannah Dienes-Williams and Alasdair Austin as the other soloists. The music was directed by Adrian Tsui.

Opera Programme

40th Anniversary Lecture

Dr Alan Howard and his son Jon created the Howard Foundation on 24th October 1982. To commemorate the 40th anniversary, the Foundation is sponsoring a lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine on 28th November 2022. This event is free and available to all.

The title of the lecture is Seeing is believing – the transformation of prostate cancer management over the last decade and it will be given by Mark Emberton who is a Professor of Interventional Oncology within the Division of Surgery and Dean of the Faculty of Medical Science at University College London. He is clinically active and holds the position of Honorary Consultant Urologist at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust where he works as a specialist in prostate cancer. 

He is joined by Dr Matthew Hobbs, Director of Research, Prostate Cancer UK, for a discussion following the lecture, chaired by Professor Roger Kirby, President of the RSM and himself a prostate surgeon with over 40 years’ experience in the NHS and private practice.

You may either attend in person or watch online. For further information and to register, please click to visit the RSM website. After the event, the lecture will be available on YouTube.

The evening opens at 6pm with the lecture starting at 6.30 and the discussion ending at 7.30 to allow time for a drinks reception to network, relax and enjoy a refreshing drink in the RSM’s iconic glass atrium.

Alzheimer’s disease: publication of new research into the role of nutritional supplementation

Dr Alan Howard and Professor John Nolan began working together in 2009, initially looking into the benefits to visual health from nutritional supplements containing the three carotenoids, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin. This led to the Howard Foundation supporting a number of clinical trials and associated research at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) at which Professor Nolan is the Principal Investigator. The full list of papers resulting from the research supported by the Foundation is given on the Publications page.

By 2014 the research had moved on to looking at brain as well as visual health. The first paper from the Carotenoids and Age-Related Dementia Study (CARDS-1) was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This showed that patients with Alzheimer’s disease are deficient in carotenoids and have poorer vision when compared to age-matched controls. In 2018, results from the Central Retinal Enrichment Supplementation Trials (CREST) showed, for the first time, that supplementation with the 3 carotenoids in the healthy population improves cognitive function by improving memory.

Further research by Professor Nolan and his team led to the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) with the 3 carotenoids into new studies supported by the Howard Foundation. CARDS-3 was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2018 and indicated that combining the carotenoids with omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This led to the setting up of a major new trial named Re-MIND (Memory Investigation with Nutrition for Dementia). Patients with mild-moderate Alzheimer’s disease consumed a daily supplement for 12 months in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial.

In October 2022, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease will publish the results of the Re-MIND trial. This trial has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease who consume a nutritional supplement containing fish oil, carotenoids and vitamin E benefit from targeted nutritional intervention. The main outcomes included slower rates of disease progression and greater improvements in mood and memory (as reported by the carers) of patients receiving the active intervention. The Editor-In-Chief, Prof George Perry, says “Re-MIND adds strong clinical evidence to the growing body of data supporting a key role for nutrition in reducing the incidence and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease with supplements.

The Re-MIND trial was led by Professor John Nolan and Dr Rebecca Power from the NRCI, working with Prof Ríona Mulcahy, Consultant Physician in General and Geriatric Medicine at University Hospital Waterford. The supplements used in the trial were supplied by  Industrial Organica (IOSA) of Mexico and are commercially available as ReMind™ in Europe and the UK and Memory Health® in the USA.

Click here to read the press release from the South East Technological University in Ireland of which the NRCI is a part.

Click here to read the pre-press online publication of the paper which will be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Volume (90) Issue (1) on 25 October. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-220556

Lifetime achievement award for José Torres

The 2022 BON conference presented a lifetime achievement award to Mr José Torres to honour his remarkable career in the development of production techniques for the ingredients of supplements containing carotenoids and towards sponsoring research into their applications. Below are two photographs of José taken at the 2018 and 2022 conferences.

José Torres with Dr Alan Howard at the BON Conference 2018
Professor John Nolan, BON chair, with José Torres at the BON Conference 2022.

José Torres was born in December 1933 in Monterrey, Mexico, number six and eldest son in a family of eight. He studied Chemical Engineering at Monterrey Tech where he captained the American Football team for three years during which they won the Championship in two of them. After graduating in 1956, he did his M.Sc., also in Chemical Engineering, at the University of Wisconsin.

José formed his first company in 1956 and later he founded Industrial Orgánica, SA (IOSA) in 1966, followed by several other companies to support the work of IOSA. The company is involved in the research, production, manufacture and purification of Carotenoids, extracted from locally grown marigold plants, to produce high quality formulations for Human and Animal Nutrition. Under his leadership, IOSA has been granted 14 US and WIPO patents for several unique processes and formulations. 

Dr Alan Howard first met José and his colleagues in the mid-1990s. They worked together with the research and clinical trials at WIT to uncover the function of Meso-Zeaxanthin within macular carotenoid products for the treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration.  

BON Conference 2022

The second BON (Brain and Ocular Nutrition) conference was held in the Howard Theatre at Downing College from 27th to 29th July. This was the fifth conference on Macular Carotenoids sponsored by the Foundation.

This conference, held over from 2021 due to the pandemic, was attended by over 130 scientists and commercial partners. There were twenty four scientific presentations and a number of poster presentation from young researchers. The organising committee made a special effort to encourage younger scientists to participate. Each of the nine scientific session had two chairs with one being a young researcher.

There were three awards presented at the gala dinner on the Thursday evening:
The Alan Howard Medal for Best E-Poster:
1st Place:  Mr. Warren Roche
2nd Place:  Mr. Emmanuel Kofi-Addo
3rd Place:  Ms. Mickeal Key

The Invited Speaker Award:
1st Place:  Dr. Christopher Zwilling
2nd Place:  Ms. Uzoamaka Nwagbo

The Early Investigator of the Year Award (The George Britton Medal):
1st Place:  Dr. Kwadwo Akuffo
2nd Place:  Ms. Parimala Sivaperuman

Dr George Britton was a special guest at the conference. Dr Britton has been a leading researcher on Carotenoids since 1966, starting at the time of pioneering chemistry research to uncover the secrets of Lutein and Zeaxanthin. He has published over 56 papers and wrote the first books on the subject. 

The BON committee, working together with the Howard Foundation, plan for the next conference to be held for the first time in the USA in 2025.

WIT becomes part of the South East Technological University (SETU)

On 1st May 2022, the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) merged with the Institute of Technology, Carlow to form the new South East Technological University (SETU). The working title for the project to create a new university in the south east region of Ireland was TUSE or Technological University of the South East.

The Howard Foundation have sponsored research in human nutrition at WIT since 2009 and from 2016, Professor John Nolan has held the Howard Chair in Human Nutrition at WIT as well as being the director of NRCI – the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland within WIT.

The Howard Foundation will continue to support the valuable and world-leading research carried out by Professor Nolan’s group at SETU.

Click here to watch a YouTube video (1m40s) in which Professor Nolan talks about the new SETU and the facilities at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland.

Click the image to go to the SETU website.

Downing College Foundation Fellowship Awards

On 25th February, a short ceremony was held in the Masters Lodge at Downing College Cambridge to award Foundation Fellowships to Julie Lambert and Jon Howard, daughter and son of the late Dr Alan Howard. The awards were made by the Master, Mr Alan Bookbinder, and given in recognition of their roles in the long standing support of the Howard Foundation to the college.

Julie and Jon join a small and distinguished group of existing Foundation Fellows – Humphrey Battcock, Kim Silverman, Alwyn Heong and Tadayoshi Tazaki. Julie is the first woman to hold the Fellowship. Jon had been a Wilkins Fellow at Downing College since 2007.

The Master of Downing College (centre) with Jon Howard and Julie Lambert following the award of their Fellowship and gown.
Jon and Julie with Dr David Thurnham, a Howard Foundation trustee.

The Howard Foundation is the largest single source of philanthropic support to Downing College since the college was founded in 1800. Dr Alan Howard went up to Downing in 1948 to read Natural Sciences and gained his PhD in 1955. Alan and Jon Howard formed the Howard Foundation in 1982. It has since funded three major buildings at the college as well as many smaller projects.

Study shows cognitive improvement in healthy older adults

Results from a study supported by the Howard Foundation are now published in the journal Clinical Nutrition. This study, the Cognitive impAiRmEnt Study (CARES), demonstrated improvements in working memory for cognitively healthy older adults, following supplementation with carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E over a two year period.

The study was led by Dr Rebecca Power at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

Click here to see further information on the WIT website. Click here to see the paper itself on the Clinical Nutrition Journal website.

For over a decade, the Howard Foundation has supported research into the health benefits of the three macular carotenoids: Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin. This has led to a number of research trials and scientific papers published in many journals.

The most significant of these papers have now been gathered together on the Publications page of this website. This shows the story of the development of the research, first into eye health and latterly into eye and brain health.

Cambridge Early Music in the Howard Theatre

On Tuesday 19 April 2022, Elina Mustonen will perform “Her Infinite Variety: Women of Shakespeare in Words and Music” a dramatic solo piece which brings Shakespeare’s text to life in combination with music from his age. The music is performed on the virginal, a popular instrument for home use in the age of Shakespeare. The Gramaphone magazine says “Elina Mustonen is a fine player, scrupulously attentive to the music and with nimble technique.” The concert, sponsored by the Howard Foundation, begins at 19.00.

Click here for details from the Cambridge Early Music website.

BON Howard Foundation Travel Grant 2022

Preparations are well underway for the 2022 International Brain and Ocular Nutrition (BON) Conference to be held 27-29th July at Downing College, Cambridge, UK. Dr Alan Howard, together with Professor John Nolan and other scientists, founded the conference in 2018 following three earlier conferences on Macular Carotenoids in 2011, 2013, and 2015, all held at Downing College.

BON encourages participation by young scientists and has created the Early Investigator Society (EIS) to stimulate and reward any researcher who is a postgraduate student or has five years or less postdoctoral experience. Members of the BON EIS are encouraged to submits abstracts for presentation at the BON Conference. These are then considered for the Howard Foundation Travel Grant award, giving young researchers the opportunity to attend an international conference.

The awards for 2022 have been given to:

  • In first place, Emmanuel Kofi Addo, Department of Ophthalmology, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah Health, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. The Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Pregnancy (L-ZIP) Trial – Initial Results – Prize €2000
  • In second place, Hao Shi, Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. The Development of Lutein-enriched Yoghurt to improve Human Health – Prize €1500
  • In third place, Mickeal N. Key, Decision Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL. USA. Gene-Environment Interactions in Aging: The Moderating Effect of ApoE Genotype on the Relationship Between Nutrition, Functional Brain Organization, and Cognitive Function – Prize €1300

For further information please visit www.bonconference.org