Alan Howard was an English nutritionist. His research interests were initially in the nutritional relationships associated with coronary heart disease and the treatment of obesity and later into eye and brain nutrition. His inventions and patents related to very-low-calorie diets enabled him to establish the Howard Foundation.
Howard enrolled at Downing College, Cambridge in 1948 to read Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry. He was awarded an MA in Natural Sciences in 1951 and a PhD in Immunology in 1955. Howard maintained life-long connections with Downing College and in 1999 became one of the first five Wilkins Fellows at the college.
Following his PhD, Howard trained as a nutritionist at the Medical Research Council's Dunn Nutritional Laboratory also in Cambridge. In the late 1950s, Howard began working on experimental atherosclerosis and was secretary for the first International Symposium on Atherosclerosis held in Athens in 1966. In 1968, he published results of a clinical trial on the use of a high protein "Cambridge Formula Loaf" for treatment of obesity. In 1974 he helped to organize the first International Congress on Obesity held in London and in 1977 he was a founding co-editor of The International Journal of Obesity. Between 1973 and 1980, work by Howard’s team at the Cambridge University Department of Medicine led to the development of a low-calorie diet formula for morbidly obese patients which itself led to the creation of a commercial product, the Cambridge Diet.
In 1991, Howard established the COAG Trace Elements Laboratory at Papworth Hospital, near Cambridge, carrying out research into aspects of nutrition and health. In 1995, Howard patented a dietary supplement containing the macular carotenoids meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Its purpose was to prevent Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). In 2009, Howard began working with the Macular Pigment Research Group (now the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland) at the Waterford Institute of Technology (now the South East Technological University). Their work was initially focused on AMD then extending into research on Alzheimer's disease. In 2019, Howard was awarded an honorary fellowship to the institute.
He died peacefully on 24 June 2020 in his holiday home in Cannes, France. His life- long work is the legacy carried on by Maravilla.