The overarching theme for Dr. Adam Lock’s human health and nutrition research program in the Michigan State University (MSU) Dairy Lipids Nutrition Program is determining the effect that milk fat-derived bioactive fatty acids – in particular, trans fatty acids (both trans-18:1 and CLA isomers) – have on human health. Previous work has ranged from biomedical studies using animal models of cancer and atherosclerosis to human clinical studies.

Examples of Dr. Lock’s current human health and nutrition research projects include:

  • using a transgenic mouse to examine the impact of milk fat-derived trans fatty acids on the development of atherosclerosis;
  • identifying the specific trans fatty acid isomers present in industrially-produced fats with negative health properties; and
  • developing a database of fatty acid profiles for dairy foods for the dairy industry.

This last project example is especially timely and relevant given the fact that a substantial proportion of the current U.S. population has been exposed to sources of trans fatty acids during their lifetime. Results of this research may have significant global public health implications. Data will have immediate application for government officials, nutritionists and health professionals as they develop policies and recommendations pertaining to the health implications of consuming trans fatty acids.

Over the past few years, Dr. Lock has established and led collaborative programs with colleagues in industry and government. He has done the same with peers at other research institutions including the University of California – Davis, Clemson University, Cornell University and the University of Delaware in the United States, and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. In 2011, Dr. Lock set up collaborations with the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He also has experience in industry-funded research and related collaborative activities, and over the past two years, he has worked with key stakeholders within the dairy industry at both the farm level (e.g. Elanco, Novus and MSC) and the dairy product level (e.g. Dairy Australia and Dairy Management Inc., or DMI).

In 2011, Dr. Lock was awarded the American Dairy Science Association Cargill Animal Nutrition Young Scientist Award. This award was presented in recognition of outstanding research conducted by a young dairy production scientist during the first 10 years of his professional career.