Chapkin and Savell honored as university distinguished professors at Texas A&M University

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty among seven new honorees

 Writers: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu 

Paul Schattenberg,  210-467-6575, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Dr. Robert Chapkin, 979-845-4426, r-chapkin@tamu.edu

Dr. Jeffrey Savell, 979-845-3992, j-savell@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Drs. Robert Chapkin and Jeffrey Savell, both faculty members in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, were recently named university distinguished professors.

The title, which is bestowed in perpetuity, is one of the highest honors given to Texas A&M University System faculty.

Chapkin is a professor in the college’s nutrition and food science department, and Savell is a professor in its animal science department.

Dr. Jeffrey Savell

Dr. Jeffrey Savell

Chapkin is a Regents Professor and University Faculty Fellow in the Program in Integrative Nutrition and Complex Diseases of the department of nutrition and food science, as well as a Texas A&M AgriLife Senior Faculty Fellow. He is deputy director of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Facility Core, Center for Translational Environmental Health Research, Texas A&M. In addition to being on the toxicology faculty, he is affiliated with the departments of biochemistry and biophysics and veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, as well as the department of microbial pathogenesis and immunology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Along with teaching classes on the scientific principles of nutrition and advanced nutritional biochemistry, Chapkin also oversees laboratory investigations of the impact of dietary fat and fiber on the cellular “signaling cascades” in the colon. His primary research is biochemical mechanisms of marine and plant species-derived bioactive agents and their role in immune modulation and chemoprevention. And his lab is involved in systems biology and the molecular-level modeling and understanding of the dynamic relationship between diet and biological molecules which regulate colon cancer development.

“Dr. Chapkin’s contributions to the field of the chemoprevention of cancer have been exceptional and merit serious consideration,” wrote Dr. Joanne Lupton, a distinguished professor in the department of nutrition and food science, in her nomination of Chapkin.

Chapkin’s research centers on colon cancer prevention by investigating the impact of dietary fat, fiber,  and folate status on disease processes. Experiments done by himself and collaborative researchers are designed to examine the effects of nutrients on the inhibition or activation of genes that are involved in the development of cancer in humans.

In his research, Chapkin has demonstrated the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on the transmission of information that alters physiological responses that ultimately determine the risk for developing colon cancer. Findings from his studies indicate that the chemopreventive effect of fish oil is due to the direct action of omega-3 fatty acids and not to a reduction in the content of omega-6 fatty acids.

He also has developed non-invasive methodology for monitoring global changes in intestinal gene expression, which has generated a patent as well as a National Institutes of Health initiated and sponsored clinical intervention trial. He and research collaborators are also investigating the mechanisms by which dietary lipids and phytochemicals affect the immune system, including the role of lipids as mediators of chronic inflammation.

Dr. Robert Chapkin

Dr. Robert Chapkin

Chapkin also has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Osborne and Mendel Award from the American Society for Nutrition, NASA Space Act Award and Bio Serv Award in Experimental Animal Nutrition from the American Society of Nutrition.

“Over the past 24 years, (Dr. Chapkin’s) discoveries have had an enormous impact on our understanding of the diet/colon cancer relationship and how changes in the diet can reduce the risk of this pervasive cancer,” Lupton stated.

Savell is a Regents Professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the department of animal science at Texas A&M and holder of the Cintron University Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence.

Savell has been recognized by The American Meat Science Association at the national and international levels, having received the Distinguished Research Award, Distinguished Teaching Award and Signal Service/American Meat Science Association Fellow Award, which is presented to preeminent scientists, educators and professionals in the meat science discipline. He has also received the highest award given by the American Meat Science Association, which is given for “extraordinary and lasting contributions to the meat and livestock Industry.”

In 2001, Savell was recognized by ISI HighlyCited.com as a “Highly Cited Researcher” for being one of the 250 most cited researchers in the world in the field of agricultural science. At the time, there was only one other meat scientist (a distinguished professor) who received this recognition. According to the nomination, using Thomson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge. Savell has an extremely high h-index of 42, which is the highest h-index for an active academic meat scientist in the world, according to Google Scholars. His work has been cited more than 5,725 times and he has published more than 300 articles in peer-refereed journals, as well as hundreds of AgriLife Extension publications and presentations, plus 19 book chapters.

According to his nomination, Savell’s research led to the production and marketing of leaner beef, meeting consumer demand for beef with less fat that is now marketed as “Select” beef.

His work also demonstrates the role of beef in a healthy diet and provided an economic incentive for the beef industry to produce leaner beef. In addition, he is considered to be a thought leader in the area of food safety and the implementation of programs to ensure the safety of meat products.

“Dr. Jeffrey Savell is truly an exceptional individual, teacher and scientist who is recognized nationally and internationally for seminal contributions to the field of meat science,” Dr. Russell Cross, head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M, wrote in the nomination.

“Accordingly, his peers have recognized him with prestigious honors, awards and invitations for major presentations and key leadership positions in his professional societies. In addition, he has proven to be a tremendous teacher in the classroom, an outstanding mentor to graduate students and a colleague who creates synergies throughout collaborations. Dr. Savell is known globally as being among the top two percent of scientists in the field of meat science and is responsible for having trained many of the leading meat scientists in the world. He is a phenomenal credit to his field of meat science and to Texas A&M University.”

Chapkins and Savell will be recognized along with four other recently selected university distinguished professors at an April 30 reception to be hosted by Texas A&M Interim President Dr. Mark Hussey and the Texas A&M Foundation.

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