|The Shaws with Avanti employees. Image courtesy of Walter Shaw.
The Shaws and Burgess say they are constantly exploring the next frontiers in lipid research. For example, on the side of the research-grade lipid products, the company is working on biologically active lipids, which are emerging as important molecules in cell function. On the pharmaceutical side, the company is exploring the use of lipids as bioactive ingredients in analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents. Since 2003, Avanti has been a licensed supplier of mass spectrometry lipid standards for the multi-institutional initiative called LIPID Metabolites and Pathways Strategy, or LIPID MAPS for short. LIPID MAPS aims to identify and quantitate the majority of lipids in mammalian cells, as well as to quantitate the changes in them in response to environmental and chemical signals.
In telling the story of how Avanti grew into the company it is today, Walter Shaw reflects on the moments that seem insignificant but change life’s course: “Just think, if this brother and sister born of incest hadn’t shown up in the emergency room with stomach cramps, we would have never had their blood to do the study. If I hadn’t been working on the blood of burn victims, went to Cleveland and called up Grand Island Biological, who knows what I would have been doing?”
But Shaw pays the biggest tribute to the moment when he treated a woman to a hamburger. He says, “If I hadn’t married Rowena, I can’t imagine where life would have taken me.”
Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the senior science writer for ASBMB Today and the technical editor for The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Follow her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/rajmukhop).