Imperial College London

Michael A Crawford PhD, FRSB, FRCPath

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Visiting Professor



+44 (0)7725 250 541michael.crawford Website CV




H 3.34Chelsea and Westminster HospitalChelsea and Westminster Campus





Director: Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition.Founder Trustee of The Mother and Child Foundation and The Little Foundation.  - President: McCarrison Society.

Recent Honours

Freeman of the City of London 2017

Global Award for Research on Omega 3 and Neuroscience, by the Much Love Foundation,China, 2018.

Alexander Leaf Distinguished Scientist Award for Lifetime Achievement. ISSFAL, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2016
Order of the Rising Sun, Tokyo, Japan. 2015.

Chevreul Medal, Paris, France. 2015.

In recognition for research in Neuroscience and Medicine. Neuroscience Center of Excellence, School of Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA 2010.

 Gold Medal from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, for contribution to science and nutrition. Government of Oman, 2008.

President of the VIth Congress of ISSFAL, Brighton, England. 2004.

Millennium - Danone Chair at the University of Ghent, Belgium.2000.

Centenary Award from Hoffman la Roche for ‘outstanding contribution to the biological understanding of the significance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and for his research on preterm & term infant brain development’ 2006.

International Award for Modern Nutrition for work on unsaturated fatty acids in early human brain development and health, Lausanne, Switzerland.1995.

Gold Medal 1st International Congress on Essential Fatty Acids.1981,


Having reported evidence that the brain required arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acid specifically, for its growth, structure and function in 1972, our work has focused first on testing the evidence, the specificity and the requirement. Attention is now directed on establishing  (i) the biological reason for the uniqueness of docosahexaenoic acid in neural signaling systems which stretched unchanged over the 500- 600 million years of evolution and  (ii) the application of this knowledge to the prevention and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.

 In the 1970s we recognized that link between dietary fats, atherosclerosis and cardio-vascular disease meant that the brain which is better protected but is dependent on  specialized , essential fats would eventually be affected by the changing nutritional conditions which especially effected the dietary fats.  The prediction that "the brain would be next" was published but met with skepticism. However, it has now been vindicated as brain disorders have overtaken all other burdens of ill health. The health cost audit of the  EU in 2005 put it at €386 billion at 2004 prices for the then 25 member states. In the UK  the cost was assessed at £77 billion  for 2007. The recent update by the Dr Jo Nurse for the DoH came out at £105 billion. This cost is greater than heart disease and cancer combined.

The change in disease profile cannot be due to a change in the genome in such a short time. Moreover the nutritional conditions are unlikely to neither change the DNA nor change the proteins. However, the cell membrane lipids house at least one third of known cellular proteins. These are the receptors, transporters, anti-oxidant systems and signalers and hence aa change in the physical chemistry of their domains will influence proteinl function. In addition, specific essential fatty acids act as ligands for nuclear receptors and manipulate gene expression.   Thus altering the membrane lipids and the dolmans around the membrane proteins alters cell function. There is good evidence that the rise in brain disorders is linked to the changing dietary conditions, which is clearly a matter of serious concern.  This is especially so as the Global Forum for Health is predicting that the rise in mental ill-health will also affect developing countries

The background will be available on the web site of the Food and Agricultural Organization in their summary of the report of an expert consultation jointly with WHO tilted "Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition, FAO nutrition paper no 91 (ISNN 0254 – 4725).



Crawford MA, Sinclair AJ, Hall B, et al., 2023, The imperative of arachidonic acid in human reproduction, Progress in Lipid Research, Vol:91, ISSN:0163-7827, Pages:1-22

Schmidt WF, Chen F, Broadhurst CL, et al., 2022, Unique and redundant spectral fingerprints of docosahexaenoic, alpha-linolenic and gamma-linolenic acids in binary mixtures, Journal of Molecular Liquids, Vol:358, ISSN:0167-7322

Wang Y, Johnson M, Crawford M, et al., 2022, On COVID-19 and membrane lipids and public health, Science and Technology of Cereals, Oils and Foods, Vol:30, Pages:55-58

Crawford M, 2022, A study of severe malnutrition in Malawian children illustrates the need for appropriate lipid nutrition to protect the brain, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol:115, ISSN:0002-9165, Pages:1257-1258

Crawford MA, Wang Y, Marsh DE, et al., 2022, Neurodevelopment, nutrition and genetics. A contemporary retrospective on neurocognitive health on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Vol:180, ISSN:0952-3278, Pages:1-16

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