Ralph T. Holman, Ph.D., was a true trailblazer in the science of omega-3 fatty acids … and much more.
Upon his passing last week, he was remembered as a talented, dedicated, humble scientist and mentor.
Dr. Holman was a deeply spiritual person who, inspired by the alpha and omega of the Bible, awarded essential fatty acids their “omega” titles.
As author Susan Allport explained in her profile of Dr. Holman in The Queen of Fats, “Holman knew more about how these fatty acids behave in the body than probably any other person on earth … He'd sensed, very early on, that essential fatty acids were much more important than cholesterol in shaping health and disease, a hunch that is now being borne out by study after study ...”
Critically, as Susan stressed, Dr. Holman was the first to realize the importance of American's badly imbalanced intake of omega-3s and omega-6s:
“Holman's studies could help us … explain the conflicting studies on the efficacy of fish in preventing heart and other diseases since individuals consuming large amounts of high omega-6 vegetable oils, even those that eat fish regularly – will still be at risk.”
“Omega-3s are here,” Susan writes, “but we're still far from understanding, as Holman was the first to suggest and as he has spent his life telling the scientific community, that the polyunsaturated fatty acids are … two competing families, a competition that is fundamental to sound eating and sound thinking about fats.”
Early on, he worked with Nobel Prize winners at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where he made landmark discoveries about inflammation.
Later, he worked alongside George Burr at the University of Minnesota, who first discovered the essential fatty acids.
Holman also served as Executive Director of the Hormel Institute, known worldwide as the premier center for the study of fatty acids and lipids, for 10 years.
Perhaps his greatest honor came in 1981, when he was offered membership in the National Academy of Science.
Among the many scientists he mentored, Dr. Holman chose Doug Bibus, PhD., to run his lab for a number of years, and they remained lifelong friends.
Doug Bibus now performs the analyses of blood that people submit after they take the Vital Omega-3 and 6 HUFA Test™ … which reveals the critically important balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in blood.
Dr. Bibus distributed a heartfelt tribute to Dr. Holman, of which the following is an excerpt:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Dr. Ralph Holman passed away peacefully yesterday morning surrounded by loved ones. Ralph was an amazing scientist and an incredible person.
I was incredibly blessed by this man and enjoyed every opportunity to spend time with him. He taught me science but even more importantly how to be a person.
Even in his age, he managed to continue to smile, maintain his optimism and keep all around entertained with his quick wit. Ralph remained physically healthy until the end, requiring only a small dose of blood pressure meds. He passed away from complications related to pneumonia.
Ralph had one of the highest omega-3 levels that we have ever measured, likely due to his daily intake of sardines, fish, and vegetables.
May we all live with the spirit and love that Dr. Holman gave every day.
– Douglas Bibus, Ph.D.
We also recommend the remembrance and profile published in Dr. Holman's local paper, the Albert Lea Tribune.
Please join us in recognizing the passing of a true scientific giant … who greatly advanced the world's understanding of omega-3s and the importance of the omega-3/6 balance to human health.
Dr. Bibus notes that memorial donations in Dr. Holman's name should be directed to Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org) – which promotes nutrition and health for disadvantaged children around the world – or your preferred charity.
Rest in peace, Ralph Holman … a rare champion of knowledge, compassion, and health.