Dr. Glahn was born and raised in the farm country of Lancaster County, PA, USA. He attended the Pennsylvania State University, earning a BS in biology (1983), an MS in physiology (1986) and a PhD in physiology (1989). During his graduate studies he was a member of the Poultry Science and Physiology departments. His graduate research defined the effects of mycotoxins on avian renal function and determined the causes and treatment of urolithiasis (kidney stones) in poultry.
He has held professional research associate positions at the Bethesda Naval Hospital (Intensive Care Unit), Bethesda, Maryland; the University of Arkansas (Department of Poultry and Animal Science), Fayetteville, Arkansas; and the Mayo Clinic and Foundation (Nephrology Research Unit), Rochester, Minnesota. His research experience spans the areas of general physiology, nutritional physiology, renal function, renal mycotoxicology, renal phosphate balance, and renal and hepatic blood flow. His expertise includes experience with numerous animal models (rodents, piglets, poultry, dogs and primates), human trials and in vitro techniques, specifically the culture of renal and intestinal epithelial cells.
In 1992 Dr. Glahn began his career as a USDA-ARS scientist. In this role his research focuses on bioavailability of essential micronutrients, specifically trace minerals such as iron and zinc. Iron has been the primary mineral of interest as iron deficiency is estimated to affect a third of the world’s population, especially women and children. From 1992 to 1998 he worked to develop a patented, simulated digestion/intestinal cell culture model that was designed to serve as a high throughput screening tool for food iron bioavailability. Such a tool is essential to determine multitude of food factors and interactions that can affect iron absorption in the intestine. Since 1998, continued application and validation of this model has led to its acceptance and use throughout the world as the leading in vitro model for food iron bioavailability. This model can be applied to iron fortification studies, iron supplementation evaluation, and is ideally suited to iron “biofortification” of staple food crops such as beans, maize, lentils, potatoes, rice and wheat. The capabilities of this system enable plant breeders to evaluate large numbers of samples, thus refining experimental crosses to breed for increased iron bioavailability. Dr. Glahn is currently using this model coupled with animal studies to develop lines of staple food crops that can be advanced for definitive human intervention trials.
Dr. Glahn has won several awards in his research career. As a graduate student he received a scholarship from the Pennsylvania Poultry Federation (1986), and received Excellence in Research Awards, from the Poultry Science Association in 1987 and 1988. In 1992 he received the Annual Award for Excellence in Research from the American Physiological Society, Section on Renal Physiology. In 1999, he received the Early Career Scientist of the Year Award for the North Atlantic Area of the Agriculture Research Service.
Dr. Glahn is appointed as a Courtesy Associate Professor in both the Department of Food Science and the Division of Nutrition at Cornell University.