2016 Laureate

Jing X. Kang, MD, PhD

Early in his career, Dr. Kang conducted pioneering work on the anti-arrhythmic effects of omega-3 fatty acids together with Dr. Alexander Leaf at Harvard. His studies, ranging from molecular experiments to clinical trials, have generated comprehensive evidence for the efficacy of omega-3 in preventing cardiac sudden death and established the mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids can reduce cardiac arrhythmia by interacting with membrane ion channels and stabilizing the electrical activity of heart cells. His publications in this field have been widely cited and contributed significantly to the importance of omega-3 for cardiovascular health.

The next major breakthrough Dr. Kang made was the development of the fat-1 biotechnology to produce omega-3 fatty acids in animals. One of the greatest nutritional problems today is the imbalance of high omega-6 and low omega-3 in food sources, and animals as well as humans are unable to convert omega-6 to omega-3. To tackle this problem, Dr. Kang utilized genetic technology to create the world’s first animals capable of producing omega-3 from omega-6 within their tissues. This discovery has changed the reality that the essential omega-3 fatty acids cannot be synthesized in mammals and must be obtained from the diet. Therefore, this revolutionary biotechnology provides a new strategy for omega-3 production as well as a novel tool for omega-3 research, with great potential to benefit human nutrition, medical research, and public health.

The creation of the fat-1 mouse model by Dr. Kang has opened new frontiers for omega-3 research. This unique model made it possible to study the authentic biological functions of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids without the confounding factors of diet, thereby overcoming the many hurdles of conventional dietary studies. Over the last ten years, Dr. Kang and his collaborators worldwide (over 20 countries) have investigated many different disease conditions using the fat-1 mouse model and have published over 120 papers, which have generated a vast pool of knowledge about the biological effects of elevated tissue omega-3 fatty acids and greatly increased our understanding of the importance of the omega-6/omega-3 ratio in the development of chronic disease.

Dr. Kang has also contributed to lipid technology innovations. He created a method to simplify the procedures of fatty acid analysis, which has been widely adopted by researchers in the field. He collaborated with another group to establish a cutting-edge technology for visualizing lipid molecules, such as omega-3 fatty acids, in living cells, with no destruction to cells and no need of labeling. He is also developing novel biomarker tests for guiding nutritional interventions.

Currently, Dr. Kang is dedicated to translating his laboratory findings into practical applications for human health. He has been conducting human studies to investigate the potential role of omega-3 fatty acids in human diseases, including cancer, autism, infertility, and air pollution-related health problems. Notably, he has been working closely with the cancer rehabilitation community in China to implement nutritional interventions for cancer patients. The integrated approaches he created have proven to be very promising, with remarkably positive feedback from the community.

Dr. Kang actively participates in teaching and training, and has mentored more than 60 pre- and post-doctoral trainees from different countries over the last few years. Many of his trainees have become principal investigators in the field of omega-3.

Dr. Kang has also contributed significantly to the activities of the academic community and professional societies. He has organized and chaired several international conferences on topics involving omega-3 fatty acids over the past years. He has served on the board of a number of scientific organizations, including as the Secretary/Treasurer of the International Society of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics (ISNN), and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics (JNN).

Over the years, Dr. Kang has devoted great effort to promoting health in the community through a variety of activities. He frequently gives health education talks and his work has increased public awareness of the benefits of omega-3 for human health. He is also the author of the book “How to Eat Well for Good Health”, which has been reprinted over 25 times and is still in high demand.

Dr. Kang’s seminal work has opened up new fields of investigation in nutritional medicine and has been recognized internationally. His research has resulted in more than 180 scientific papers published in top tier journals (including Nature and Science) that have been widely cited, with an h-index of 56. He has been invited to speak at more than 100 national and international conferences/seminars during the last few years. His studies have been selected as one of the Top 100 Science Stories of 2006 and 2007 by Discover magazine, Top 10 Significant Boston Research of 2006 by Nature Network, and Most Significant Dietary Supplement Research Advances of 2006 by the NIH. He was named one of “The Best and Brightest 2007” by Esquire magazine. Altogether, his globally recognized achievements and dedication to public health demonstrate that Dr. Jing X. Kang is truly an outstanding scientist.