About Chris Masterjohn, PhD
Chris MasterjohnWelcome to Cholesterol-And-Health.Com. My name is Chris Masterjohn. I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and I am currently Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York, but the effort I put into this site is not merely academic. It's very personal to me.
Speaking on the 2012 Low-Carb Cruise
"Why Animal Fats Are Good For You"
Watch the video here!
Photo by Amy Dungan
I used to think that cholesterol is a killer, the culprit behind most modern disease. In my late teens, I stopped eating meat and eventually all animal products. Despite trying to eat healthily, my well being suffered in many ways, and I struggled with many problems including digestive issues, tooth decay, and anxiety. My health underwent a revolution after I learned of the work of Weston Price and began eating high-quality animal foods and focusing on the nutrient density of my diet rather than simply avoiding boogeymen like saturated fat and cholesterol. You can read more about my story here.
My experience made me want to pursue a career where I could "pay it forward" and help other people. I was finishing up a bachelor's degree in history, but decided to switch gears and pursue something in the health sciences. I first considered medical school, but as I began studying the laboratory sciences I needed as pre-requisites, I fell in love with the complexity of biological science and realized with my particular gifts I could best "pay it forward" by pursuing a career in research. My friends and professors also realized this in me and encouraged me in this direction.
In the Fall of 2004, while I was still pursuing pre-requisites for medical school, I started writing for Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Over the following several years, I began developing unique ideas and scientific hypotheses, especially about the importance of the fat-soluble vitamins and how they interacted with each other. I published a hypothesis about the molecular mechanism of vitamin D toxicity in 2007. Tufts University published further evidence supporting my hypothesis the following year. Finding the gift of scientific creativity within myself to develop hypotheses during this time solidified my commitment to pursuing a career in research.
In January of 2008, I enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Connecticut, and I graduated with a PhD in Nutritional Sciences in the summer of 2012.
My dissertation was about the role of glutathione, an antioxidant and detoxifying molecule that we make within our own bodies from dietary protein, in preventing the accumulation of methylglyoxal, a potentially toxic compound formed in small amounts during energy metabolism that is believed to play a role in diabetes and other degenerative diseases. My dissertation is available here. It is free from libraries that have a subscription with the distributor and is otherwise available for purchase.
From 2012-2014, I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign studying interactions between vitamins A, D, and K. I worked in the laboratory of Fred Kummerow, Professor Emeritus, who began publishing studies critical of trans fats back in the 1950s, long before anyone else had jumped on the bandwagon, and who with his colleagues who work in his lab has devoted the lion's share of his research to cholesterol, lipid metabolism, and heart disease.
I am now a full-time, tenure-track faculty member at the assistant professor rank at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY). I am continuing my research on the fat-soluble vitamins here, and teaching undergraduate classes on nutrition science for students pursuing the didactic program in dietetics (DPD) to become registered dietitians.
The opinions I express on this site are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the University of Connecticut, the University of Illinois, Brooklyn College, CUNY, or any of my colleagues from these institutions.
I have a growing number of peer-reviewed publications indexed with PubMed, which can be found here. The best way to keep up with my extensive writing outside of scientific journals is to subscribe to The Daily Lipid, the blog I write for this site. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
While I hold cholesterol in high regard as a molecule vital to life, and while I write about the benefits of high-quality animal foods, my intention here is not to bash vegetarianism or support the meat industry. I deeply value compassion for animals and support sustainable farming practices where animals are raised on pasture, leading to happier lives for animals and healthier meat, eggs, and dairy products for humans.
My purpose here also should not be confused with the promotion of a diet that is entirely or mostly animal products. I think the need for animal products varies from person to person and we all need to to fine-tune the type of foods we eat by listening to our bodies and evaluating our personal experiences. The only way to do this, however, is to stop fearing cholesterol and other nourishing substances present in natural foods.
Finally, I don't claim to have all the answers. I thank God for having created a universe in which there is so much at which to marvel, that is so vast and incomprehensible in its breadth and depth that an entire lifetime spent learning of its wonders can only lead to the deepest humility as we realize that all of our knowledge is but a tiny drop in a limitless ocean of wonder.
Please join me in the pursuit of truth, learning, and wonder!
Wishing you the best of health,