Lawrie Creamer

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Lawrie Creamer

Lawrence Kenneth Creamer

(1937-10-23)23 October 1937
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died7 September 2019(2019-09-07) (aged 81)
Wellington, New Zealand
Alma mater University of Canterbury
Scientific career
FieldsMilk protein chemistry
Institutions Fonterra
Thesis The Ladenburg rearrangement  (1963)
Doctoral advisors Jack Vaughan
Alfred Fischer

Lawrence Kenneth Creamer JP FRSNZ (23 October 1937 – 7 September 2019) was a New Zealand chemist specializing in milk protein chemistry. In 2004, he received the International Dairy Federation Award.


Early life and education

Born in Christchurch on 23 October 1937, Creamer was the son of Gladys Henrietta Creamer (née Hopkins) and William Henry Creamer. [1] [2] He was educated at Christchurch Boys' High School, [3] and went on to study chemistry at Canterbury University College, graduating Master of Science with second-class honours in 1961. [4] He completed a PhD at the same institution, by then called the University of Canterbury, in 1963; the title of his doctoral thesis, supervised by Jack Vaughan and Alfred Fischer, was The Ladenburg rearrangement. [3] [5] [6]

Christchurch City in South Island, New Zealand

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand's third-most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington. The Avon River flows through the centre of the city, with an urban park located along its banks.

Christchurch Boys High School secondary school in Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch Boys' High School, often referred to as CBHS, is a single sex state secondary school in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is situated on a 12-hectare (30-acre) site between the suburbs of Riccarton and Fendalton, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to the west of central Christchurch. The school also provides boarding facilities for 130 boys in a residence called Adams House located about 500 metres (1,600 ft) to the east. The school's colours are deep blue and black with an occasional flash of gold.

University of Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand

The University of Canterbury is New Zealand's second oldest university.

Research career

Creamer joined the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute (DRI), later part of Fonterra, in Palmerston North in 1963, and between 1964 and 1966 he undertook protein research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [3] Returning to DRI, he rose to become a principal research scientist in 1990. [6] He led a research team that investigated the chemistry of milk proteins and their interactions. [6] His research covered both fundamental chemistry and practical aspects of the manufacturing of dairy products. [6]

Fonterra public company

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers. The company is responsible for approximately 30% of the world's dairy exports and with revenue exceeding NZ$17.2 billion, is New Zealand's largest company.

Palmerston North City in North Island, New Zealand

Palmerston North is a city in the North Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Manawatu-Wanganui region. Located in the eastern Manawatu Plains, the city is near the north bank of the Manawatu River, 35 km (22 mi) from the river's mouth, and 12 km (7 mi) from the end of the Manawatu Gorge, about 140 km (87 mi) north of the capital, Wellington. Palmerston North is the country's seventh-largest city and eighth-largest urban area, with an urban population of 86,600.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology University in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Institute is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, with an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The Institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength, making it one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.

His early work resulted in improvements to the manufacture and consistency of cheese and milk powders. [6] He carried out research into milk protein structures, and the effect of heat on milk and the aggregation of the proteins in whey. [6] As a result, whey proteins, previously only used as animal feed, became ingredients in a range of food products. [6] His research into casein hydrolysis in cheese led to greater understanding of the relationship between cheese composition, texture and flavour. [6]

Whey protein Protein supplement

Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. The proteins consist of α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, serum albumin and immunoglobulins. Whey protein is commonly marketed as a dietary supplement, and various health claims have been attributed to it. An authoritative review published in 2010 concluded that the provided literature did not adequately support the proposed claims.

The current system under which New Zealand dairy farmers are paid for their milk based on its content of milk fat and protein solids was a direct result of work by Creamer. [6]

From the 1990s, much of Creamer's research was on the structure of the whey protein β-lactoglobulin, how it is affected by heat, and its ability to bind vitamins. [6] His research found that the structure of β-lactoglobulin is altered at high temperature, forming a new protein that reacts with smaller milk proteins. [6]


β-Lactoglobulin is the major whey protein of cow and sheep's milk, and is also present in many other mammalian species; a notable exception being humans. Its structure, properties and biological role have been reviewed many times.

Honours and awards

In 1973, Creamer received the ICI New Zealand Prize, for outstanding achievement in chemical research, and the following year he was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. [3] In 1984, the American Dairy Science Association awarded him the Miles-Marschall International ADSA Award, for research outside of North America leading to improved dairy products; he was, at the time, the youngest ever recipient of the award. [6] Creamer was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1995, [7] and won the society's Scott Medal in 1999, for pre-eminence in fundamental, strategic and applied New Zealand dairy science and technology. [8] In 2004, Creamer received the world's top dairy honour, the International Dairy Federation Award, in recognition of his contributions to the dairy industry over more than 40 years. [6]


Creamer died in Wellington on 7 September 2019 at the age of 81. [1]

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Lactose chemical compound

Lactose is a disaccharide. It is a sugar composed of galactose and glucose subunits and has the molecular formula C12H22O11. Lactose makes up around 2–8% of milk (by weight). The name comes from lac (gen. lactis), the Latin word for milk, plus the suffix -ose used to name sugars. The compound is a white, water-soluble, non-hygroscopic solid with a mildly sweet taste. It is used in the food industry.

Casein pronounced "kay-seen" in British English, is a family of related phosphoproteins. These proteins are commonly found in mammalian milk, comprising c. 80% of the proteins in cow's milk and between 20% and 45% of the proteins in human milk. Sheep and buffalo milk have a higher casein content than other types of milk with human milk having a particularly low casein content.

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In 2013 a wide-scale recall of products sold by dairy producer Fonterra was announced after suspected botulism-causing bacteria were found during safety tests. The contaminated whey products had been sold to third parties who use it to produce infant formula and sports drinks. Approximately 1,000 tonnes of consumer product was affected by the recall across seven countries, but no cases of sickened consumers were reported. China, which imports most of its powdered milk from New Zealand, instituted a temporary ban on the import of the ingredient from New Zealand.

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  1. 1 2 "Lawrence Creamer death notice". Dominion Post. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  2. "Births". The Press. 25 October 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Branch officers 1977–78" (PDF). Chemistry in New Zealand. 42 (1). March 1978. p. 5. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  4. "NZ university graduates 1870–1961: CO–Cu". Shadows of Time. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  5. Creamer, L.K. (1963). The Ladenburg Effect (PhD). University of Canterbury. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Fonterra scientist awarded top dairy honour". Scoop Business. 22 November 2004. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  7. "The Academy: A–C". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  8. "Scott Medal". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 9 September 2019.