Kenneth Setchell wins prestigious Windaus award for research in bile acids and liver disease


CINCINNATI - Kenneth Setchell, PhD, director of the Clinical Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, has been awarded the 2004 Adolf Windaus Prize for his research accomplishments in the areas of bile acids and liver disease.

The Windaus Prize is presented every other year by the Falk Foundation to a scientist who has made significant achievements in gastroenterology. The award was presented to Dr. Setchell during the June meeting of the International Bile Acid Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden.

"I feel very honored to have been selected for this prize, which I consider a pinnacle of my career. It is also pleasing to receive this award in Stockholm because my career started at the Karolinska Institute where I completed my postdoctoral studies," Dr. Setchell said.

Prior to joining Cincinnati Children's in 1984, Dr. Setchell was with Medical Research Council's Clinical Research Center in London where he laid some of the diagnostic groundwork for his later discoveries in bile acids and liver disease.

Dr. Setchell was granted the Windaus Prize for his research accomplishments in the area of bile acids and liver disease which include the discovery of six genetic defects that cause liver disease in infants and children and the development of a treatment for reversing what are otherwise fatal conditions. Bile acids are secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. They work by digesting fats, oils and fat-soluble vitamins and in doing so, have an important function in keeping cholesterol at healthy levels. But when bile acids do not produce normally, this can lead to growth failure, difficulty in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, jaundice and liver disease.

The Windaus Prize is named for Adolf Windaus, a Nobel Prize Laureate who in the 1928, was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry. Windaus is known for his work in identifying the chemical structure of cholesterol and vitamin D, among other areas. The Windaus Prize is considered the most prestigious award in the field of bile acid research and liver disease.

The Clinical Mass Spectrometry Laboratory is recognized as a leader in the area of cholesterol, steroid and bile acid metabolism and consequently has built a strong national and international program in this area of research. The laboratory also supports part of the core for the National Institutes of Health Program Project Grant on cholesterol absorption.

The study of bile acids, liver and gastrointestinal disease is one of two core research projects within the Clinical Mass Spectrometry Laboratory at Cincinnati Children's. The laboratory also focuses on the role of nutrition, particularly phytoestrogens, in disease prevention and treatment.

Phytoestrogens are a plant-based compound in which Dr. Setchell's studies have shown are effective in cancer prevention. Other researchers have since published studies supporting Setchell's initial studies on soy-based phytoestrogens and cancer prevention. Dr. Setchell is considered the world's leading authority on soy-based phytoestrogens.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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