Prof Philip Calder, research lead for obesity, liver disease and cancer

Philip CalderProfessor Philip Calder leads the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre’s research into obesity, liver disease and cancer in adults, with a personal focus on the influence of dietary fatty acids on the immune system and inflammation.  

Fatty acids and the immune system

Philip's research aims to identify the influence of dietary fatty acids on the immune system and inflammatory processes, to understand the mechanisms of action of specific fatty acids, and to translate these findings into health benefits.

Through Philip's work, the omega-3 family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly those found in fish oils, have been shown to have a range of anti-inflammatory and immune system-modulating effects.

Key mechanisms

Involving a wide range of fatty acids including oleic acid and olive oil, conjugated linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids, this research has determined influences both on production of the eicanosoid inflammatory messenger molecules and directly on cells.

Better diets and nutritional therapies

This work has significantly advanced understanding of fatty acid properties and of the mechanisms involved, aiding knowledge of the health benefits of naturally-occurring fatty acids and informing the design of nutritional therapies to address weak or excessive immune and inflammatory responses.

The research is referenced in the 2009 guidelines on the use of parenteral lipids in intensive care, from the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), and in the 2011 position paper on plaque stabilisation published by the European Society of Cardiology working group on atherosclerosis and vascular biology. 

Wider roles

Philip is an active member of several profesisonal body, advisory and policy groups, currently including

  • Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN, 2012 to 2015).
  • Immediate Past-President of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL; President March 2009 to March 2012).
  • Member of Editorial Boards of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular & Cell Biology of Lipids; Clinical Nutrition; European Journal of Nutrition, Nutrition; Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids.
  • Section Editor (“Lipid metabolism & therapy”) for Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care (since January 1998).
  • Editor in Chief of the Frontiers in Nutritional Science book series.
  • Since 2010: Member of the Faculty, European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN).

Overview of education and career

Education

1980: BSc (Hons) (First Class) in Biochemistry, Massey University

1987: PhD in Biochemistry, University of Auckland

1995: DPhil in Biochemistry, University of Oxford

2000: Registered nutritionist (RNutr)

2011: Fellow Society of Biology (FSoB)

2012: Fellow of the Association for Nutrition (FAfN)

Career

1982 to 1987: Assistant lecturer in Biochemistry, University of Auckland

1987 to 1991: Nuffield medical fellow, University of Oxford

1991 to 1995: Departmental lecturer in Biochemistry, University of Oxford

1995 to 1998: Lecturer in human nutrition, University of Southampton

1998 to 2002: Reader in human nutrition, University of Southampton

Since 2002: Professor of nutritional immunology, University of Southampton