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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pioneering Dairy Researcher Dies


"The next time you pick up a carton of low-lactose milk or reduced-fat mozzarella cheese at the grocery store, you are holding the result of Virginia H. Holsinger's research. She also developed a shortening used in baked goods and created a low-lactose powdered milk used in military field rations."

That's from a fascinating obituary by Patricia Sullivan in the Washington Post.

Dr. Holsinger, the former head of the dairy products research unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Wyndmoor, Pa., developed the enzyme treatment that makes milk digestible by people with lactose intolerance, research that resulted in the commercial product Lactaid. ...

Virginia H. Holsinger was born in Washington and graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington County. She received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the College of William and Mary in 1958 and a doctorate in food science and nutrition from Ohio State University in 1980.

She started her research career as an analytical chemist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service's dairy products laboratory in Washington and transferred in 1974 to the Eastern Regional Research Center in Pennsylvania, where she stayed until her retirement in 1999. ...

Dr. Holsinger wrote or co-wrote more than 100 scientific papers and received multiple awards from agricultural and food chemistry organizations, as well as the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

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