- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Hammock was named the recipient of the 2013 William E. M. Lands Lectureship Award in Nutritional Biochemistry at the Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. He lectured Oct. 8 on “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inhibitors of the Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Block Angiogenesis, Tumor Metastasis and Tumor Growth.”
Hammock and postdoctoral researcher Guodong Zhang and their team made national news when they discovered a key mechanism by which dietary omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) could reduce the tumor growth and spread of cancer, a disease that kills some 580,000 Americans a year.
“Bill Lands has long been one of my heroes in science,” Hammock said, “because he carried out excellent fundamental biochemistry and then applied this work to having a dramatic effect on diet and health worldwide.
Lands, a world-renowned nutritional biochemist, discovered the beneficial effects of balancing the effects of excess omega-6 fatty acids with dietary omega-3 fatty acids. One of the world's foremost authorities on fish oils and the author of the book, "Fish, Omega-3 and Human Health,” Lands is best known for his seminal studies demonstrating the benefit of reducing omega-6 and increasing dietary omega-3 lipids. He is a 1951 graduate of the University of Michigan and served on the faculty from 1955-1980.
Some of the top nutritionists in the country have lectured on the biochemical of essential nutrients at the Lands Lectureship, but this year was particularly relevant. Hammock was selected because his laboratory has shown one of the biochemical mechanisms by which omega–3 lipids reduce blood pressure, inflammation and pain.
The work was also timely in that Hammock’s laboratory, in collaboration with Kathy Ferrara at UC Davis and Dipak Panigrahy at Harvard recently demonstrated a biochemical pathway by which omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the growth and metastasis of breast and lung cancers. The work was recently published (April 3) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Hammock lab researcher Guodong Zhang, now an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts.
The UC Davis researchers demonstrated that the omega-3 fatty acid is converted into bioactive metabolites that reduce hypertension, inflammation and pain.
While at the University of Michigan, Hammock also delivered a keynote address at the Fall Symposium on Lipid Mediators, a one-day scientific conference highlighting biomedical research involving lipid mediators. Hammock described how an omega-3 rich diet coupled with a drug candidate developed at UC Davis with researchers Bora Inceoglu and Karen Wagner can control chronic neuropathic pain such as that associated with diabetes.
“Now that the fundamental work can be translated, Alonso Guedes of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is well underway in trials of a drug to relieve pain and inflammation in horses, cats and now dogs,” Hammock said.
The omega-3 lipid project is part of the effort carried out by the UC Davis Foods For Health Institute, directed by Bruce German. The work has been in progress for a number of years in the Hammock laboratory. John Newman, former postdoctoral researcher in the Hammock lab and now an adjunct professor in nutrition, received the John Kinsella award for his Ph.D. work developing a mass spectrometry method for regulatory lipids. More recently Angela Zivokvic, former postdoctoral researcher in the Hammock lab and now associate director of scientific development and translation, has led a team using a later version of this mass spectrometry method to predict patients most likely to benefit from an increase in omega-3 dietary lipids.
“As Professor Bill Lands often says, ‘Nix the 6 (Omega-6) and eat the 3 (Omega-3,’ Hammock quipped.
Hammock directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory. He is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching.