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John T. Brosnan

Class of 2015-16

John T. Brosnan
John T. Brosnan

Memorial University of Newfoundland
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Royal Society of Canada

In the field of amino acid biochemistry, John T. Brosnan is known for his groundbreaking research into kidney and interorgan metabolism of amino acids and one-carbon units.

His work has changed our understanding of how animals and humans make use of dietary protein and amino acids.

Brosnan focuses his research on the metabolism of the twenty key amino acids that compose proteins. Of these, he has published extensively on the metabolism of fourteen.

His most significant contributions concern understanding how several amino acids can be converted to glucose, a key element in our ability to withstand prolonged starvation; the regulation of amino acid metabolism by hormones; and how glutamine is used to regulate our acid–base status. Brosnan’s most recent work examines how vitamins—folate, in particular—can facilitate one-carbon metabolism. He is also exploring the key role that formic acid plays in that process.

Brosnan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biochemistry at University College in Cork, Ireland, and his doctorate in biochemistry from Oxford University in 1969. At Oxford, he conducted research under a Nobel Prize laureate, Sir Hans Krebs.

After postdoctoral work at the University of Toronto, he accepted a position in 1990 at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he continues to work as a research professor in the university’s Department of Biochemistry.

Brosnan is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 1986, the Canadian Society for Nutritional Sciences gave him the Borden Award, the highest award for nutrition research in Canada. He received an honorary doctoral degree from the National University of Ireland in 2005.

In 2013, the Danone Institute of Canada gave Brosnan, together with Dr. Margaret Brosnan, the Distinguished Nutrition Leadership Award, the top honor for contributions to the nation’s nutrition industry. In 2014, Memorial University awarded Brosnan the John Lewis Paton Distinguished Professorship.

He has served as president of the Canadian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; chair of the board of Canada’s Institute for Research in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes; and chair of the research council of the Canadian Diabetes Association. He is an adjunct professor of pediatric nutrition at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

He has written one book and published 171 peer-reviewed articles.

As a TIAS Faculty Fellow, Brosnan will collaborate with faculty–researchers and graduate students from the departments of animal science, poultry science, and nutrition and food sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; from the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; and from the Texas A&M Health Science Center.