Meat scientist Dr Stephen Smith, internationally renowned for his revelations that oleic acid, a healthful monounsaturated fatty acid, increases with time on a grain-based diet in feedlot cattle, is a keynote speaker at the Wagyu Revolution Conference at Crowne Plaza in the NSW Hunter Valley on May 3 and 4.
The latest developments in this research area, critical to the feedlot industry and to the Wagyu industry in particular, will be explained by Dr Smith at the Wagyu Conference, his only speaking engagement on the trip to Australia.
Dr Smith is a Regents Professor of meat science in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University and a member of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Food Science and Technology and the Intercollegiate Faculty of Nutrition.
He received his bachelor’s degree in biology at California State College, Bakersfield, and his doctorate in metabolic physiology from the University of California, Davis. Before joining Texas A&M University, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Research Chemist at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska. Dr. Smith teaches meat science, nutrition and physiological nutrition courses.
Dr. Smith’s primary contribution to the animal sciences is the documentation of the nutritional and genetic regulation of the concentration of oleic acid in animal tissues. Dr. Smith demonstrated that the concentration of oleic acid, a healthful monounsaturated fatty acid, increases with time on a grain-based diet in feedlot cattle. Dr. Smith developed assays for the activity of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD; responsible for producing oleic acid) in tissues of livestock species, and was the first to report SCD activities and gene expression in bovine and porcine tissues. He documented that adipose tissue from Japanese Wagyu cattle has higher SCD activity and gene expression than adipose tissue from domestic U.S. cattle, which provided strong evidence for the genetic regulation of SCD gene expression in livestock species.
Dr. Smith published some of the earliest research to document that Japanese Black cattle, known for their ability to accumulate marbling, also had unusually high concentrations of oleic acid in their muscle and adipose tissues. Beginning in 1991, Dr. Smith began collaborative research with scientists at Kyoto University in Japan, which lasted for over 10 years. Similarly, in 1995, Dr. Smith was invited to Korea to assist scientists and producers in the improvement of the fatty acid composition of Hanwoo beef. Based on successful collaboration with Korean scientists, Dr. Smith was awarded two, three-year research grants by the Korean Rural Development Administration (RDA) specifically to improve the fatty acid composition of Hanwoo beef. As an expansion of Dr. Smith’s work, he currently is working with Chinese scientists to develop high-quality beef.
Dr. Smith was a keynote speaker at the 34th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology held in Brisbane, Australia, and in 1996, Dr. Smith was invited to Australia to help solve problems of hard fat in feedlot cattle. Working with Dr. Ron Tume from CSIRO, Dr. Smith determined that the combination of forages and available grains in their feedlot rations strongly depressed SCD activity, leading to an accumulation of saturated fat in carcass fat depots that had very high melting points. Although the problem of hard fat has not been eliminated completely, it now has been minimized sufficiently to reduce serious production problems in Australia.
Dr. Smith has received the American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award (1988), the American Society of Animal Science Growth and Development Award (1999), and the title of American Society of Animal Science Fellow (2015). Dr. Smith received the American Meat Science Association Award in Meat Research (1993) and the Distinguished Research Award (1998). Dr. Smith received two Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence – as a member of the Genetic Control of Beef Carcass Merit Research Team (1997), and for International Programs (2003). In 2007, Dr. Smith received the Outstanding International Collaborative Research Award from Rural Development Administration, Republic of South Korea. Dr. Smith also served as Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Animal Science from 1999-2002. In 2014, Dr. Smith received his highest honor, the TAMU System Regents Professor Award, and he was designated as a Faculty Fellow, Texas AgriLife Research that same year.