20 November 2013

Professor emeritus Jørn Dyerberg honoured as living legend


The International Union of Nutrition Scientists (IUNS) has awarded Jørn Nyerberg of the University of Copenhagen with its “Living Legend Award”. The award recognizes Nyerberg’s groundbreaking contributions to the nutritional sciences, including his discovery of the importance of omega-3 fatty acid in human health.

“Professor emeritus Jørn Dyerberg is one of the pioneers behind the discovery of the health effects of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in our foods. His work has paved the way for an entirely new field of research that has grown enormously since his first scientific articles in the 1970’s, so we have lots to thank him for,” says Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports head, Arne Astrup

Jørn Dyerberg

Jørn Dyerberg

During the 1970’s, Jørn Dyerberg traveled with Professor H.O. Bang, Professor Hugh Sinclair and others to Greenland to study Inuit eating habits. 

Specifically, they investigated high fish and shellfish consumption among the Inuit. This precipitated in the discovery of nutritional benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acid consumption.

The research group’s findings were the first to correlate the low incidence of coronary artery disease among Greenland Inuit with the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Their results piqued overall interest in the health effects of marine, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. And ever since, the area has been a central field of research in the nutritional sciences.

Today, official dietary guidelines around the world reflect Dyerberg’s research results, unanimously advising us to eat more fish and benefit from marine omega-3 sources. Jørn Dyerberg, 76, completed his physician training at Aarhus University. Since 2011, he has been a professor at the University of Copenhagen. Now retired, he remains affiliated with UCPH as Professor Emeritus.

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the  “Selskab for Ernæringsforskning” (Society of Nutritional Sciences) on 25 February 2014. All are invited to attend, via registration. At the meeting, Dyerberg will deliver a lecture entitled, “Marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids – a nutritional field introduced by the Greenland Inuit”. Thereafter, the Society of Nutritional Sciences will hold a toast in honour of Jørn Dyerberg.