Professor Michael Crawford
Professor Crawford has been the Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition since 1990. Having worked in the East-end of London on maternal nutrition and health with Newham, the Homerton and Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, he is now at Reproductive Physiology at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus of Imperial College, London. His special interest is in the role that lipids and essential fatty acids play interacting with the cellular signalling systems, i.e. the key interaction between nutrition affecting membrane lipids and gene expression.
He has published over 300 peer reviewed papers and 3 books. Amongst his several honours and prizes, he was elected by his peers to the Hall of Fame at the Royal Society of Medicine in 2010. In 2015 he was awarded the Chevreul Medal for his research on DHA identification as a major determinant of brain growth and plausible evolution of the human brain. He collaborates in research internationally and is much in demand as a lecturer worldwide.
From 1960-65 Professor Crawford was at the Makerere Medical School in Kampala, Uganda, during which time he studied the nutritional factors linked to endomyocardial fibrosis, which was common there. He also offered a nutritional explanation as to why the incidence of bladder cancer was different in different parts of East Africa. In 1963 he was one of the founders of the Medical College at Muhimbili Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam. He retained his research group at Makerere until 1972, when the position became impossible.
At the Nuffield Institute of Comparative Medicine (1965-89) Professor Crawford equipped and computerised his laboratory to engage in lipid nutrition and showed that deprivation of the essential fatty acids used for the brain’s structure and function resulted in loss of brain cell number in the third generation. In 1972 Crawford and Sinclair published the first description of the dependence of the brain on arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids and drew attention to the evolutionary implications. Crawford also demonstrated clear evidence of maternal nutrition being a causative factor in low birthweight and complications or prematurity.