Science - March 3, 2005

Katan academy professor

Tuesday 1 March, Professor of Human Nutrition Martijn Katan was appointed Academy Professor by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The president of the academy, Professor Pim Levelt, came to Wageningen to present the award, which includes KNAW financing of one million euros, an amount that the university will match.

‘Katan has developed a new way of doing research,’ said Levelt in his speech. ‘He examines the effects of nutrition at the sub-cellular level, links his findings to the effects on the organism and goes on to link them up to the effects of eating habits at the epidemiological level.’ According to Levelt, Katan has made discoveries that save the lives of thousands of people each year. His discoveries include that trans-fatty acids increase the chance of heart and circulatory disease, and that cafestol, a fatty substance in unfiltered coffee, increases the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body.

‘Martijn Katan is also aware of the tensions between fundamental scientific research and industrial applications,’ continued Levelt. ‘He continuously reminds his researchers that they must not let themselves be influenced by industry.’ The Academy Professorships are intended for professors between 55 and 65 who no longer manage to do scientific research because of their administrative obligations. It gives them the chance to train new researchers and get back to science themselves. / WK

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