HatchWhen Dr. Frederick Hatch was a young researcher, he and his wife moved frequently around the country.

There were stints of study at Dartmouth, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he spent time doing research at the Army Nutrition Laboratory during the Korean War.

Those experiences helped provide the base for a revolutionary discovery that the “rice diet” – which had been used in the late ‘40s to treat malignant high blood pressure — increased a person’s triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood. This was the first scientific evidence that carbohydrates could be turned into fat and contribute to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries—the usual cause of cardiovascular disease.

His research achievements span a wide variety of spheres, targeting coronary heart disease, hypertension and lipid abnormalities. He pursued DNA research of potential carcinogenic elements in the diet and also established the foremost U.S. research group investigating byproducts produced during meat preparation.

Hatch continued his study of atherosclerosis, serving as a member of the Council on Atherosclerosis for the American Heart Association for many years, and receiving an established investigatorship from the association for his work. He was personally thanked by Dr. Paul Dudley White, one of the AHA’s founders. In the handwritten note, which Hatch has kept and cherished, White thanked him for continuing his study of atherosclerosis, which he called a “major health problem.”

It was a far cry from the early years of Hatch’s career when his research was partially funded by the AHA. During those days, he and his wife would scrape together checks received for his research to help feed their four young children.

Virginia Hatch recalls a particular Saturday morning, waiting for a check to arrive.

“One day, we were waiting for the GI Bill check that we needed by noon to come in the mail,” she said. “So we got in the car and drove the mail route trying to find the mailman. We finally found him and he had our check. That was called being poor.”

Today, the couple is grateful to the AHA and his three alma maters and have decided to leave a “sizeable portion” of their estate to the organization and universities.

“I went to three major places for education, and not many people do that. I just felt that, to the extent that we can give back, it is an obligation,” Hatch said.

“We felt that we owed it to the AHA. We were very, very poor back then,” said Mrs. Hatch.

Photo by Ed Rodbro