Calcium expert honored with university's top research award

May 22, 2012

Connie Weaver

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Connie Weaver, head and distinguished professor of nutrition science, is the 2012 recipient of the Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the most prestigious research honor given by Purdue University.

Weaver is being recognized for her work on calcium metabolism in adolescents and the impact of diet, gender, race and sexual maturity on calcium utilization. She also is a member of the Institute of Medicine, which is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Professor Weaver's findings have transformed the way the nation thinks about the value of calcium consumption, and especially its importance in establishing bone health in young girls that will last their lifetime," said Richard Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research.

Weaver is an expert in mineral bioavailability, calcium metabolism and bone health, and she has published more than 150 original research articles and 100 books, book chapters and reviews. Today's calcium requirements for North America and the national recommended dietary guidelines in adolescents are based on her research findings that the optimal calcium intake is 1,300 milligrams for healthy bone mass.

She also has found that boys utilize calcium more efficiently than girls, but they still need 1,300 milligrams a day to build bigger bones, and that blacks utilize calcium more efficiently than whites and build 12 percent stronger skeletons on average. Her work also has looked at calcium retention in Chinese-American youth and obese children.

Weaver is deputy director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In 2005 she was appointed to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and she served on the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board Panel to develop new requirement recommendations for calcium and related minerals.

The McCoy Award, established in 1964 by Ethel Terry McCoy in memory of her husband, is presented annually to a Purdue student or faculty member for outstanding contributions to science. The winner is nominated by colleagues and selected by faculty representatives and the university president.

Weaver will be formally recognized on Nov. 14 during the McCoy Distinguished Lecture. She will give a presentation about her research from 3:30-4:30 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Richard Buckius, 765-494-6209, rbuckius@purdue.edu  

                 Connie Weaver, 765-494-8237, weavercm@purdue.edu