John Halver

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Dr. John E. Halver (age 65)

John Emil Halver (April 21, 1922 – October 24, 2012) [1] was an American biochemist known for his research into the nutritional biochemistry, physiology, cellular biochemistry of fish.[2] His work on the nutritional needs of fish led to modern methods of fish farming and fish feed production around the world.[3] He held a position with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as director of the Western Fish Nutrition Laboratory in Cook, Washington, where Halver and his staff carried out reseaerch on the nutrient requirements for Pacific salmon."[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Halver received his bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's in organic chemistry from Washington State University, completing his thesis, *Enzymatic Resolution of Amino Acid Phenyl Hydrazides" in 1948. His Ph.D. is in medical biochemistry, and was awarded by the University of Washington Medical School based on his thesis, *A vitamin test diet for chinook salmon: the water-soluble vitamin requirement of chinook salmon" in 1953.

He served as a US Army Ranger, European Theatre during WWII; Platoon Leader to Captain, 100th Division, 399 Infantry, Fox Company. Citations received: Croix d’Valeur (France), Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, American Theatre Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Army of Occupation (Germany), and the Citoyen d’Honneur (France). He served in three campaigns: Southern France, The Rhineland, and Southern Germany [5]


Halver opened the Western Fish Nutrition Laboratory at Cook, WA in the Columbia River gorge in 1950.[6] His experiments in fish feed requirements eventually resulted in the test diet, H440 (which stands for Halver, 440th try) and became the basis for all manufactured fish feeds today.[citation needed]

In addition to research, Halver taught at the University of Washington. Some of his students have become directors of federal fisheries programs, feed manufacturing plants, and university aquaculture programs. He was named Senior Scientist in Nutrition in 1975 and was US Science Ambassador 1975-1992.[7]

In 2005, Halver was named as one of the "Leading Scientists of the World" by the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, England.,[6] because of his work for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, and the International Executive Service Corps, which led to improved food supply for populations in developing countries.[8]


Prior to Dr. Halver’s research, fish could not be raised in captivity from egg to breeding adult. His work led to commercial fish feed manufacturing and net pen fish farming by industrial countries, and also to fish rearing by individuals with very limited facilities. This increased protein availability to people in developing countries.

In addition to fish nutrition Halver was also involved in human nutritional biochemistry research. In the US Army Medical Labs he worked on the nutritional requirements of military personnel, and the development of field rations for troops and astronauts.

He also discovered the cause of trout hepatomas (liver cancer) in the early 1960s, and developed methods of avoiding them. He was voted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1978 on the basis of that work.[9]

Halver carried out research on Vitamin C in its many forms. His research showed that Vitamin C1 (Ascorbic Acid) the active form of C, is required by the body to create new cells and repair cells. His work also showed that C2 though C6 are other forms of C, some of which are stable, and that effectiveness of C1 breaks down when exposed to heat and light. His research showed that animal feeds that use the stable forms of C in their diet formulation can have a shelf life of many months and still be effective. He was also involved in cancer research, looking at enzyme activity, proteins, lipids, and at the effect of nutrients upon gene functions.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Fish Feed Technology. J. E. Halver, Ed. 395 Pgs. ADCP/REP/80/11. FAO; Rome, Italy. 1980
  • Metabolism of Ascorbic Acid and Ascorbic-2-sulfate in Man and the subhuman primate. E. M. Baker, J. E. Halver, D.O.Johnsen, B.E.Joyce, M.K.Knight, and B. M. Tolbert. Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 258: 72-80 1975
  • Aflatoxicosis and Trout Hepatoma. John E Halver pp265–306 in Aflatoxin, L.A. Goldblatt, ed. Academic Press, NY
  • Special Methods in Pond Fish Husbandry. L. Horvath, G. Tamas, and I. Tolg. (J. E. Halver, Ed.) Akademiai Kaido; Budapest, Hungary. 150 pgs. 1985
  • Investigation on nutrition of some cultivable finfish species and development of cost-effective formulae feeds. A.K. Jafree and J.E. Halver. ICAR-USDA IN-AES-251. pgs 93. 1991
  • Nutrient requirements and metabolism of marine species. in Halver, J.E. (C. S. Lee, editor). Aquaculture: Retrospective and Outlook. - An Aquaculture Summit. Asian Fisheries Society, Manila, Philippines and World Aquaculture Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. P.117-132
  • Separation of three commercial forms of Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, Ascorbic-2-sulfate, and Ascorbic-2-polyphosphate) by HPLC. S. Felton and J. E. Halver. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology & Medicine. 190: 217-218. (1989)
  • L-Ascorbyl-2-Sulfate alleviates Atlantic Salmon scurvy. J. E. Halver and R. W. Hardy. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology & Medicine 206: 421-424. 1994
  • Efficacy of L-ascorbyl-2-sulfate as a Vitamin C source for Rainbow Trout. Proceedings of the IV International Symposium on Fish Nutrition and Feeding held June 1991 in Biarritz, France. J. E. Halver, S. Felton, A. Palmisano. p 137-147 in Fish Nutrition in Practice ( S. J. Kaushik and P Luquet, Eds.) INRA; Paris, France. 1992
  • Effects of dietary Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on brain gene expression. Kitajka, Klara; Sinclair, Andrew J; Weisinger, Richard S; Weisinger, Harrison S; Mathai, Michael; Jayasooriya, Anura P; Halver, JE; Puskas, Laszlo G. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:10931-10936 (2004)
  • A vitamin test diet for long-term feeding studies. J. E. Halver and J. A. Coates. Progressive Fish-Culturist. 19: 112-118. 1957
  • Nutrition of Salmonoid Fishes, IV. An amino acid test diet for Chinook Salmon. J. E. Halver. Journal of Nutrition. 62: 245-254. 1957

Personal life[edit]

Halver was an active Christian, and gave lectures on the harmony between science and theology,[10] At the time of his death Dr. Halver was survived by Jane Loren Halver (his wife of 68 years), by their 5 children: John Emil IV, Nancylee, Janet, Peter, and Deborah, 12 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "National Fish Culture Hall of Fame", American Fisheries Society, Spearfish, South Dakota, inducted 2000
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ US Army service records, Halver, John Emil 4904
  6. ^ a b "Local Man Named As 'Leading Scientist'". White Salmon Enterprise.
  7. ^ US Fish and Wildlife Service, Dept of the Interior, US Government
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-22. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Harmony between Science and Theology; Hungarian Academy of Sciences, July 2011