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William J. Whelan, D.Sc., FRS

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

(305) 243-6267 (office)

(305) 243-5665 (fax)

Curriculum Vitae
Ph.D. (1948) D.Sc. (1955) University of Birmingham, UK
Honors and Professional Activities

Secretary General, Federation of European Biochemical Societies, 1965-67; Pan-American Association of Biochemical Societies, 1969-72; International Union of Biochemistry, 1973-83; President, International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1997-2000.

Editor-in-Chief, TIBS 1975-78, BioEssays 1983-88, The FASEB Journal, 1986-1996, IUBMB Life, 2000-

Member and Chairman, NIH Physiological Chemistry Study Section 1970-75

Honorary D.Sc., La Trobe University, 1997

Honorary Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1988

Honorary Member, The Biochemical Society, UK 1993, Royal College
of Physicians, 1985, Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2001

Fellow of the Royal Society of London, 1992

Alsberg Medal,1967; Ciba Medal, 1969;Saare Medal , 1979;
FEBS Millenium Medal,2000

Wood/Whelan Fellowships of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1986

Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, University of Miami, 2006


Research Interests
To study the response of blood glucose levels following the consumption of solid or liquid foods.  The blood glucose/time curve following such consumption is used to measure the area under the curve (AUC) that corresponds to the influx and disappearance of glucose.  This in turn is used to compile the glycemic index (GI) which ranks the relative blood glucose responses evoked by foods to a standard carbohydrate, usually glucose (GI=100).

We have demolished a number of myths, e.g. that the GI of beer is zero.  We showed that the effect on the AUC of eating or drinking the same food rapidly or slowly is completely unpredictable.  There is no correlation.

It is a widely held belief that the GI is an absolute value and that a person who wishes to eat a diet that will result in a low AUC can use the values of GI as a guide to choice.  To some extent this is correct, but we have shown that the GI is not an absolute value but is personal to the consumer of the food.  That is, a person can in no way predict their actual AUC from the published values of GI.  Two persons eating/drinking the same amount of the same food can have AUCs that differ as much as 4-5 fold.  We are investigating personal characteristics such as BMI that may help predict AUCs.

Another myth may be that foods that do not contain carbohydrate cannot have a measurable GI.  This would be true of, say, vodka, the ethanol in which cannot be converted into glucose.  But it may not be true of meat protein.  A person who, after an overnight fast, is carrying out gluconeogenesis, must be capable of converting protein into glucose.  The question becomes one of how rapidly and to what extent is the blood glucose level elevated?


Recent Publications
1. Whelan, W.J. (2009) Glycogenin. IUBMB Life in press
2. Whelan, W.J. (2009) Does consuming carbohydrate slowly elicit a lower spike in blood glucose? IUBMB Life, 611, 268-269.
3. Dodson, H.J. and Whelan, W.J. (2007) Caloric counting. IUBMB Life, 59, 193-194.
4. Lomako, J., Lomako, W.M. and Whelan, W.J. (2004) Glycogenin: the primer for mammalian and yeast glycogen synthesis. Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 1673, 45-55.

5. Whelan, W.J. (2003) The maximum size of glycogen molecules. IUBMB Life, 55, 109-110.


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