PORTLAND, Ore. – Dr. Mark Levine, an internationally recognized researcher on the function and pharmacokinetics of vitamin C, has been awarded the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research, one of the leading honors in the world for excellence in the study of nutrition, micronutrients and natural approaches to health.

The award was made today at the fourth biennial conference, “Diet and Optimum Health,” held in Portland, Ore., and organized by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. It includes a medal and $50,000.

Levine is chief of the Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health. He is author of more than 125 publications in professional journals, has studied vitamin C for more than 20 years and is considered one of the leading scientists in the world on this essential antioxidant.

“Dr. Mark Levine is a passionate scientist and one of the true pioneers in the study of vitamin C, especially in its relationship to cancer,” said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. “His work has built on some of the earliest findings about vitamin C made by Pauling himself, has been instrumental in raising the amounts now recommended for daily intake, and has contributed a great deal to our understanding of this nutrient’s biological functions, its transport into cells, and its role in immune function.”

Some of Levine’s latest work, Frei said, in fact relates specifically to some studies Pauling and Ewan Cameron did in the 1970s on the potential of large intravenous dosages of vitamin C to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and extend survival time. Blood levels of vitamin C that can be obtained through intravenous infusions are far higher than anything that can be reached by oral intake, and Levine’s research – as did Pauling’s before it - suggests at these levels the nutrient has the ability to selectively kill cancer cells, Frei said.

“Levine . . . may be the only scientist today with the credibility and knowledge to advance exploration of ascorbic acid as a pharmacologic agent,” said one researcher in nominating him for this prize. “His work has been groundbreaking and has contributed importantly to understanding the pharmacology and biology of vitamin C in human health and disease.

Many of the nation’s leaders in research on nutrition, aging, cancer, obesity and other topics are in Portland this weekend for the Diet and Optimum Health Conference.

That event, which is being held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland, will conclude Saturday with a free public presentation from 9-11 a.m. by Sally Squires, medical and health writer for the Washington Post. She will discuss concepts from her book, “Secrets of the Lean Plate Club,” and take questions from the audience. Her writings and publications have helped millions of consumers learn healthy eating and exercise habits.

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Balz Frei,