Nutrition Genomics Expert Receives USDA
Award By Rosalie Marion Bliss
October 20, 2006
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20Discoveries about how genetic
inheritance provokes biochemical responses to diet and nutrition have garnered
a Secretary's Honor Award for
M. Ordovas of the
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in
Ordovas is director of the HNRCA's
Genomics Laboratory, which is funded by the
Agricultural Research Service, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
intramural scientific research agency.
"Ordovas' work has significantly advanced the emerging field of
nutritional genomics and provided a foundation for developing targeted dietary
and lifestyle recommendations for given populations based on genetics," said
ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "These research findings ultimately are
aimed at providing knowledge to help prevent chronic diseases and promote
Ordovas will be among those honored today at the 59th Secretary's
Honor Awards Ceremony. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will present the
awards during the event at USDA headquarters here. In addition to the USDA
Honor Awards, it was also announced that group Employee Recognition and
Remembrance Awards will be presented to acknowledge USDA employees who
contributed, in a significant manner, to recovery and relief efforts in the
aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
"Among many others across the country, this group award honors 45 ARS
employees whose efforts far exceeded the regular performance of their duties,"
Knipling said. "This group award cites these employees' extraordinary level and
quality of assistance during rescue and recovery operations in response to the
disastrous effects of hurricanes Rita and Katrina on the United States in
Secretary's Honor Award recipient Ordovas began his career researching
genes that control blood levels of fats, which affect the risk of heart
disease, more than two decades ago. He is currently leading investigations into
how nutrients regulate the actions of genes that are involved in metabolism and
genes that are related to obesity.
Along with colleagues, Ordovas found that several common mutations in
a gene known to be protective during famine, perilipin, actually modulate body
weight in women. His team also has found that other variations in the perilipin
gene predict the response of obese people to very low-calorie diets. That
finding defines a group of individuals who are genetically resistant to
traditional weight-reducing diets and for whom other alternatives are needed.
Ordovas received his bachelor's degree in organic chemistry from the
University of Zaragoza, Spain and received
a doctorate in biochemistry in 1982 from the same institution.