Dr. Ralph T. Holman well known for researching, naming omega-3, omega-6

Dr. Ralph T. Holman (1917-2012)Former Executive Director of The Hormel Institute


AUSTIN, Minn. – Thursday, Aug. 16 — Dr. Ralph T. Holman, a highly distinguished scientist and former Executive Director of The Hormel Institute who named the omega-3 fatty acids, died Wednesday at age 94.

Holman, who joined The Hormel Institute in 1951 and served as Executive Director from 1975 to 1985, conducted world-renowned lipid research for more than three decades at the Institute. Holman performed significant research on and coined the names omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – widely known terms today.

“All of us at The Hormel Institute are deeply saddened by Dr. Holman’s passing,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “He provided outstanding leadership and played a major role in The Hormel Institute’s great success and leadership worldwide in the field of lipid research for many decades. Today, there is immense awareness and study of omega-3 fatty acids due to Dr. Holman’s remarkable scientific achievements.”

During Holman’s era, significant attention was placed on lipid research worldwide. In the 1990s, at the direction of the National Institutes of Health, medical research turned its focus to cancer due to the disease becoming the leading cause of death in Americans under age 80. Today, The Hormel Institute conducts world-renowned research focused on discoveries leading to the prevention and control of cancer.

In 1981, Holman received one of the highest honors bestowed on scientists when he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, becoming one of a few Minnesota natives to achieve that recognition.

Earlier this week, Holman’s name was announced as one of five recommended for Austin Public Schools’ 5th/6th grade intermediate STEAM school (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) under construction now.

Funeral services for Dr. Holman are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at First Congregational Church in Austin.