Richard Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD

Interview with Richard Mattes, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Affiliated Scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and Vice-President Elect for the American Society for Nutrition.

Dr. Mattes received his Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Cornell University and conducted post-doctoral studies at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Monell Chemical Senses Center. He remained at Monell for 13 years progressing to full member. At Purdue University, Dr. Mattes is the Director of the Ingestive Behavior Research Center, and the Director of Purdue’s Public Health Graduate Program. He also holds numerous external responsibilities including Associate Editor for The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He is also secretary of the Rose Marie Pangborn Sensory Science Scholarship Fund. Richard Mattes has been the principal investigator on National Institutes of Health grants continuously since 1984, and has authored of over 265 publications.

 

1. How did you first get involved in nutritional biochemistry and research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

My original plan was to pursue a career in public health. I selected nutrition as a focus because while diet-related disorders were widespread, a large proportion appeared solvable. It was a field where one could make a difference. Following completion of my public health training, I realized I needed a deeper understanding of nutrition science to be in a position to address the issues that now seemed much more complicated. My pivot to nutrition and sensory science stemmed from my work under Shiriki Kumanyika who was interested in sodium intake and hypertension at the time as well as a recommendation by a friend to attend an illuminating course taught by Bruce Halpern, a sensory scientist in the Psychology Department at Cornell. Understanding the drivers of food choice, such as sensory function, seemed to be a critical control point for moderating diet-related chronic diseases.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization

I joined the American Institute of Nutrition (AIN) in 1986, immediately following completion of my post-doctoral training, when I thought I had completed a sufficient body of work to be eligible for membership. I considered it an honor to be a member of a professional association that included many of the scientists publishing work that guided my thinking. It was also an important resource for me since I was at an institution with a mission to understand the mechanisms and functions of the chemical senses, not address nutrition problems. So, while I had wonderful colleagues, few had similar training to me or similar interests and as a young scientist, I needed more feedback from people knowledgeable in nutrition. The AIN was an invaluable resource.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

Membership benefits like access to all four ASN Journals have been, and continue to be the primary means for my keeping current with the advancing science.

4. What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

My research has always been at the interface between nutrition, sensory, food and psychological sciences. I hope that it serves as a bridge to these other areas as they are integral to understanding food choice and how behavior influences physiology.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

I currently have a split appointment. Sixty percent of my effort is devoted to building and administering a new public health graduate program. So, after over thirty years of basic and clinical research, I find myself back at my original professional aspiration. The other forty percent of my effort is as a traditional faculty member, though I do direct the Ingestive Behavior Research Center which provides a unique opportunity to train doctoral students in this area of specialization.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

My biggest concern stems from the decreasing funding base for nutrition research. Of course, it directly limits what science can be pursued, but more insidiously, I think it drives scientists to take more advocacy roles for their area of work and this corrodes the scientific process. It also requires more time and energy being spent writing grants with the consequence being less time to engage in professional activities (e.g., reviewing manuscripts, serving on professional committees) which further hampers progress.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell students and postdocs within ASN?

 Invoke the word “no” as seldom as possible. Many will argue the best advice is to maintain a laser focus on one’s area of study. Not having tried this approach I can’t speak to is success. My experience is that every opportunity I’ve pursued in some way, at some time, has proven to be worthwhile.

 

Dr. Mattes’ research focuses on the areas of hunger and satiety, regulation of food intake in humans, food preferences, human cephalic phase responses and the mechanisms and functions of taste, with the objective of understanding the neural, genetic, metabolic, hormonal, cognitive, cultural and especially sensory influences on human ingestive behavior, nutrient utilization and energy balance in healthy and clinical populations.

 

Interview with Sharon Donovan, Ph.D., R.D., Professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois and Past President of the American Society for Nutrition.


Dr. Donovan received her Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at Stanford University School of Medicine. She joined the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1991, where she became Professor in 2001 and in 2003 she was named the first recipient of the Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health. She served as Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program from 1999-2009. Dr. Donovan served as President of the American Society for Nutrition for 2011-2012. She is also President-Elect of the International Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) and she continues to provide leadership and guidance in several committees and special initiatives for ASN. In October 2017, she was elected to National Academy of Medicine.

How did you first get involved in nutrition research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

I was an undergraduate student at U.C. Davis majoring in Zoology, with the intention of going to veterinary school. In my junior year, I took a physiological chemistry course (basically nutritional biochemistry) taught by Richard Freedland—and I loved the course! Afterward, I took a nutrition course in the Department of Nutrition, where Bo Lönnerdal was a guest lecturer on the topic of pediatric nutrition—and I was hooked! I switched my major to nutrition science and started doing research in his laboratory and eventually was accepted into his laboratory for my doctoral degree.

When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization?

I joined the former AIN in 1984 as a graduate student in nutrition at U.C. Davis and attended my first FASEB meeting in 1985. I became a Full Member in 1989. I joined because the American Society for Nutrition is the top nutrition society for basic, translational and applied research in nutrition.

What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

ASN membership has been instrumental throughout my career. Early on, ASN provided a framework for disseminating my research through annual meetings and publications. Likewise, through ASN I was able to build a broad professional network of colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and around the world. ASN also provided numerous leadership opportunities through the RIS groups, on the Executive Board as Councilor and Secretary and, eventually, as President of the Society. All of these activities have been very professionally fulfilling for me.

What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

My laboratory conducts basic and translational research in the area of pediatric nutrition. During this phase of life, proper nutrition is of key importance for growth, development and long-term functional outcomes, such as cognition and immune response. A large focus in my lab is how early life events influence the composition and functional capacity of the gut microbiome. As we learn more about the microbiome and its relationship with many of the same diseases that have long been associated with dietary intake, it is clear that nutrition researchers should know more about this newly appreciated “organ”.

Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

I am a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and am affiliated with the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics. Currently, my collaborators and I are investigating dietary approaches to improve the structural and functional development of the intestine and the brain, and the development of gut microbiome and the gut-brain-microbiome axis. In addition, I enjoy engaging with researchers in other fields to conduct transdisciplinary research focused on ways to prevent childhood obesity and picky eating behaviors and to reduce the severity of symptoms in children with autism.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

Obviously, research funding continues to be a challenge for researchers in all areas. However, given the importance of nutrition in health and chronic disease prevention, I believe that there are many opportunities for nutrition researchers for interdisciplinary collaborations, which can be very attractive for funding agencies. In my opinion, more research is needed in understanding the contribution of the individual to interactions with diet and other environmental factors. For example, what role are host genetics and epigenetics genetics playing in responses to diet? This has been a hot area of research for a decade, but has not been fully translated to clinical medicine. Similarly, we need to know a lot more about the host aspect of host-microbe interactions, if we are going to tease out the role that the microbiome plays in health and disease.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to get involved in ASN. There are opportunities to “dip your toe” in the water and see how you like it! The RIS’s and other membership engagement groups, such as the Student Interest Group and the Postdoc/Early Career Nutrition Interest Group are great places to get involved. Networking is critical, particularly at earlier stages of your career, and professional contacts made through networking can help open doors that lead to opportunities, including internships, postdocs and jobs. Later in your career, being known by your colleagues can help with getting letters of P&T or learning about new positions in industry.

Interview with Elizabeth J. Parks, Professor at the University of Missouri and Past Chair of the ASN Publications Committee

Since 2013, Dr. Parks has been a Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology and Associate Director of the Clinical Research Center in the Institute for Clinical Translational Science at the University of Missouri (fondly known as Mizzou). Previously, she was Associate Professor in Clinical Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Recently, she received the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Junior Faculty Research Mentoring and the 2016 Robert I. Levy Award from the Kinetics and Metabolism Society.

1. How did you first get involved in nutrition epidemiology and research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

The genetics of heart disease strongly affects the health of my family, and influenced my academic path. Early in my career, I worked as a technician in a lab with cardiovascular researchers who stressed the importance of nutritional strategies in treating chronic diseases. I was impressed with how a prudent diet could improve health.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization?

ASN was the scientific organization that my mentor, Barbara Schneeman, was active in. Like many other graduate students, my first scientific presentation was at EB and over the past 27 years, membership has benefited my career in many ways. I learned early on that being involved in professional associations was the key to success, and that’s true for any career. These organizations provide essential networking opportunities – even simply talking to someone at a conference poster presentation can change the course of your academic or career trajectory.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

Attending the scientific meeting has been the most rewarding. Aside from the excellent science presented there, this is the venue I attend to mentor and to be mentored. It is very rewarding to follow colleagues as their careers advance and to witness how a scientific life can have such a positive impact on others. At conferences, we have the chance to speak with people who are in a similar life stage as you, and we’re surrounded by others who understand the difficult life of a scientist. If you’re struggling to solve a problem, you have an audience of experienced researchers who can offer many possible solutions.

4. What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

I study how the body’s metabolism changes when we are fasting and then eat a meal. Food consumption is the physiologic challenge that our bodies are exquisitely designed to manage. In health, right at the beginning of a meal, a complete 180 degree shift in metabolic flux occurs. The body switches from burning stored nutrients (body fat and glycogen), to absorbing, burning and storing the nutrients in the meal. Importantly, in chronic disease, this switch is not well regulated and it is this inefficiency that causes disease pathologies.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

At Mizzou, I am fortunate to be surrounded by some of the best human physiologists in the U.S. working in state-of-the-art facilities. We have many collaborative projects that investigate the effects of over-eating and sedentary behavior on metabolism. One NIH-funded study focuses on the benefits of diet and exercise to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. We hypothesize that weight loss and improved fitness, both shown to reduce liver disease, do so through a mechanism of enhanced mitochondrial activity. This project would not be possible without the collaboration of faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

One of the biggest challenges facing us is that the power of the scientific approach is currently under-appreciated in our culture. Some people want to believe that a particular nutritional strategy will solve all ills. Since nutrition messages in the press have appeared to be contradictory (this week, “Coffee is good for you,” next week, “coffee is bad for you.”), this has led many in the public to just tune us out. Our discipline has the same attributes of other sciences – information is ever evolving. Thus, dietary advice may also change over the years. We need to do a better job of communicating how nutrition science leads to discoveries that can benefit individuals and improve the health of citizens.

Nutrition science is also by nature interdisciplinary, and we must cross disciplines in order to be effective. We must work in teams: animal researchers can collaborate with human researchers to make sure their results will apply to the human condition, and epidemiologists can get more mechanistic with data collection. It doesn’t make sense for any one person to attempt a novel discovery, and we will be more effective once communication across disciplines improves.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

I have four concepts for mentees to mull over. First, bring energy to your training environment. You need energy, self-motivation and organization to flourish in an academic setting. Trainees must reach out and grab a hold of the experiences that are presented to them. If a mentor is writing a grant or review paper, ask to participate in the process. If another trainee needs assistance in acquiring data, volunteer to help them. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to assist others. Give your time to a professional organization and mentor those around you. The time spent in a doctoral program or postdoctoral fellowship will go by quickly and these environments provide once-in-a lifetime opportunities to learn.

Second, give your mentors a break. Mentees frequently do not know all the pressures and responsibilities their mentors are up against. In a research lab setting, because your mentor has built that environment, you get to learn in it; spend some time to learn what your mentor has gone through to get where they are. The worst situation to be in is when we don’t know what we don’t know – it is much better to be wrong and know why. So find out what your mentor’s job is really like: what are their current challenges, and how can you help them be successful?

Third, set goals, but enjoy your work along the way. In academics, our paths are frequently like being on a treadmill, forever going up hill. The feeling can be, ‘you have not succeeded until you’ve finished your doctoral degree.’ Then, you’ve not succeeded until you’ve completed postdoctoral experiences. Next, you aren’t a success until you get your first job. And then there’s the goal of promotion and tenure. If you wait until you have achieved a promotion to be happy, you will have been unhappy a good portion of your career. It is important to find a way to enjoy the everyday work of science…even when it means repeating that experiment a third time!

Lastly, embrace the complexity of your science. Despite the huge gains that have been made in understanding the molecular control of gene expression, much less is known about the individual responses of human physiology to nutrients and dietary patterns. Understanding the factors that contribute to individual responses will be key to future developments in precision medicine. This field is complex but it represents one avenue of nutrition science that is wide open for discovery.

Dr. Parks’ research interests include cephalic phase of food intake and sensory effects on absorption of lipids, the effect of dietary macronutrients on the development of obesity-related disorders, non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis, liver inflammation, and postprandial metabolism, and modeling of non-steady state kinetics in metabolism.

Interview with Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and Advisor for the ASN Early Career Nutrition (ECN) Interest Group

Dr. Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, where she has been since 1988. She is also a professor of Sociology at NYU and a visiting professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Recently, she won writing and literary awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals for her most recent book, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).

1. How did you first get involved in nutrition epidemiology and research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

My doctorate is in molecular biology (nucleic acid enzymology) so I have longstanding experience in science. My first teaching job was in the Biology Department at Brandeis University, where I ran the undergraduate biology laboratory courses and taught molecular and cell biology to majors and premeds.
The department was unusual in having two teaching rules: you could only teach the same course three times in a row (so you stayed fresh), and you had to teach whatever the department needed (because you knew more than undergraduates). When my three years of cell biology were up and it was time for me to switch courses, it turned out that students had been petitioning the department to teach human biology courses. I was offered a choice of human physiology or human nutrition, and picked nutrition.
This was in the mid-1970s. Two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling had just published Vitamin C and the Common Cold, and Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet was on the best seller list. Michael Jacobson had just launched Center for Science in the Public Interest and published Food for People, Not for Profit, a book of essays about food topics that could have been written yesterday. I picked nutrition to teach because I was curious to know whether there was any science behind any of this.
To find out, I started reading the literature. I soon discovered that there is plenty of science but that humans make terrible experimental animals. Methods are imprecise and results hard to interpret. Whereas teaching cell and molecular biology means teaching students to accept abstractions that they cannot see, taste, smell, or feel, teaching nutrition was fun—and a fabulous way to teach critical thinking in biology. In those days, any undergraduate could read a nutrition research paper and see inadequacies in methods or interpretation. It was like falling in love and I’ve never looked back.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization

I left Brandeis for a job teaching nutrition to medical students at UCSF, where we created a coordinated program we called Nutrition UCSF. I worked with faculty in various specialties to put that together. We had a federal grant to teach nutrition to medical students and physicians. Some of the faculty were involved in developing nutrition support teams to work with hospitalized patients. I worked with them to establish the Northern California chapter of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and started going to its meetings. At one of them, I met Lyn Howard (from Albany Medical College), and she suggested I join the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and the American Institute for Nutrition, the ASN forerunners. She sponsored my applications, and I felt honored when they were accepted. This must have been in the early 1980s, but I can’t find a record of the exact year.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

I came into the nutrition field from outside it and didn’t know who was who or what was what for a long time. I should add that toward the end of my sojourn at UCSF it was clear that I needed nutrition credentials and I did a master’s in public health nutrition at Berkeley. I did my public health field work as a consultant for the Agency for International Development in Southeast Asia, and went from there to Washington, DC as senior nutrition policy advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services, where I edited the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. For one regrettable reason or another, I’ve never been able to attend annual meetings regularly so my main contact with ASN has been through its journals. I mostly know ASN members through other professional routes.

4. What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

The most important one has to do with conflicts of interest. I’ve been increasingly concerned about the damage to the reputation of nutrition researchers caused by financial ties to food companies with a vested interest in the outcome of their research. I was embarrassed for our profession by Michele Simon’s report: “Nutrition Scientists on the Take from Big Food: Has the American Society for Nutrition Lost All Credibility.” I spoke about my concerns at the initial meeting of ASN’s current “truth” committee and am looking forward to its forthcoming report.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

I am answering these questions a couple of months before I officially retire from NYU after 29 years, although I don’t expect much to change in my professional life. I am keeping my office and title for a few more years, at least. My current book project is about the effects of food industry funding of nutrition research and practice. This is a long-standing concern that I’ve been writing about occasionally since 2001, including in Soda Politics. I decided to do the book after reading the New York Times’ front-page story on Coca-Cola’s funding of investigators behind the Global Energy Balance Network, whose leaders argued that physical inactivity is more important than overeating in determining body weight. This book will have a chapter about the reputational risks of ASN’s financial ties to food companies.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?
I’ve always believed that the most intellectually challenging problem in our field is determining what people actually eat. Everyone other than nutrition professionals thinks getting dietary information is easy and so is relating it to chronic disease risk. But I think formulating research questions and designing studies to answer questions about diet and health are enormously difficult and I have great respect for everyone who takes on such questions. That’s the intellectual challenge.
The more practical challenge is the need for fully independent funding. Federal funding for nutrition research is limited and the cuts threatened by the Trump Administration will only make the need more critical. Without independent funding, the nutrition research agenda gets skewed in favor of projects food companies can use for marketing. The big research questions are to define dietary patterns that promote health, find ways to provide healthful diets to people who lack resources, and identify effective dietary approaches to preventing noncommuncable diseases.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

This is a field that badly needs well trained researchers who can tackle the complex biological, social, and political issues related to food and nutrition on the research agenda. These are tough issues to address and they need all the help they can get. I’m planning to end my book about food industry funding with advice to stakeholders. My advice to students and postdocs is to be careful about accepting research funding from any company that has even the remotest interest in the outcome of their studies. The evidence that industry funding influences research outcome is overwhelming and undeniable. Furthermore, recipients are unconscious of the influence, making protection difficult. If at all possible, find another source of funding. If your research supervisor insists that you accept industry funding, consider working with another research supervisor. Credibility and integrity matter a lot at every career stage. You might as well start yours out right.

Dr. Nestle’s research and writing examine scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice, obesity, and food safety, emphasizing the role of food marketing. Her interests in nutrition and food policy and politics include food and nutrition policy development and analysis (domestic and international), with a focus on dietary guidance, social and environmental influences on food choice, and the effects of food industry marketing on diet and health; and communicating information about the links among agriculture, food, nutrition, and health to students, professionals, and the public. Since 2002, she has written eight books on such topics. Her next book, tentatively titled “Buying Nutrition Science: How Food Industry Sponsorship Skews Research and Harms Public Health,” will be published by Basic Books late in 2018.

May 2017 Member Highlight Interview for ASN Nutrition Notes eNewsletter:

Interview with Laura E Murray-Kolb, Professor at Pennsylvania State University and Chair of the ASN Membership Committee

Dr. Murray Kolb is Associate Professor and Professor-in-Charge of the Graduate Program of the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University, where she has been since 2010. Previously, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of International Health, Program in Human Nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she continues to hold an adjunct faculty position. Recently, she was the 2016 recipient of the American Society for Nutrition’s Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition and Development, given to a young investigator for a substantial body of independent research in the field of nutrition and development with potential relevance to improving child health. Dr. Murray-Kolb was honored for her innovative studies on the influence of iron deficiency on mother/child interactions and subsequent child development.

1. How did you first get involved in nutrition research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

Ever since high school, I was interested in finding ways to improve health with good nutrition, to enhance athletic performance, to show how eating nutritious foods could lead to better health. My goal was to become a surgeon, and I took a couple of nutrition courses. I delayed medical school and got my Master’s Degree in nutrition, as I felt it was important to have a strong foundation in nutrition in order to become a good doctor. During my early years in graduate school, I became passionate about nutrition research, thanks to the mentorship of John Beard. His enthusiasm for research was almost contagious! I went on to get my PhD in Nutrition as I wanted to pursue a career where I had the opportunity to explore questions not yet answered, and to work with brilliant scientists who are also looking for those answers. I have the good fortune to be active in the field, looking for ways to improve health with good nutrition, especially for mothers and children.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization?

Like many members I joined ASN as a student, getting ready to present my abstract at the 2004 ASN meeting at EB. My mentor encouraged me to join and to become active in ASN. At EB, I became exposed to the wonderful science I now get to practice. I felt (and still feel) proud to be a part of the premier global organization in nutrition science, to be witness to the latest scientific findings, and to help influence nutrition policy worldwide.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

Having access to the leading journals in the field is a key membership benefit for me. Penn State also has access to ASN journals, but my personal access has been huge professionally to keep current with the latest research while on the road. I like the feeling of ASN as a home with my professional family, where I can reach out to other members with questions, to look for answers from scientists and researchers who may have experience in those areas. I also find networking opportunities at ASN as a huge benefit, feeling confident that ASN members have received the quality training I’m looking for, to get their opinions and perspectives. I’m excited to see the use of networking tools like ASN NutriLink to get the conversation started about topics of interest by the community. I also feel I can trust the opinions of other ASN members.

4. What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

After my formal training in nutrition, as a postdoc, I had the opportunity to gain advanced training in psychology and child development. While those fields were very different than mine, I now have an understanding of best practices in the fields of nutrition, psychology, and child development. I learned about processes and techniques from psychology and have been able to marry them with those used in nutrition in order to conduct research which furthers our understanding of the association between micronutrient levels and cognitive outcomes. I think that multidisciplinary techniques need to be employed to examine the complex problems that we are trying to understand today and I’d like to see more ASN members incorporate best practices and findings from related fields in their research. My hope is that our research findings will help to improve global health for everyone. Solid, evidence-based, scientific discoveries will be a catalyst for shaping health policies globally.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

I work as Associate Professor, which entails research, teaching, and service–as s a land grant institution, Penn State is committed to service. I teach both undergrad and graduate courses in Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, and Global Health. I also help train graduate students in the lab, with a large undergrad group of students in honors classes and volunteers. My research activities are both overseas and in the US. While most of my field research is overseas, mechanistic studies are primarily at Penn States, where we have state of the art equipment to help identify what’s going on in the brain. The majority of my research work is with iron deficiencies, either with the mom or child, and on behavior and cognitive development. My geographic research areas are Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

Because nutrition is an interdisciplinary field, the main challenge is with regard to funding at all levels, thus we need to ensure that funders understand the importance of nutrition research. Another challenge is that people from all sorts of backgrounds claim to be nutrition experts and they don’t necessarily convey evidence-based nutrition, thus confusing the message about what is good nutrition.
The microbiome is an area ripe for research, where there’s a lot of promise. There’s a particular rising interest in the gut-brain axis. However, we should be cautious about interpretation of research findings. Change is not necessarily bad; we need more research before we can properly characterize the changes that we observe in the microbiome under various experimental conditions. There is so much to learn.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

My biggest piece of advice is for everyone, especially young scientists, to be rigorous about research; don’t take shortcuts. We need to do good science–do your homework, don’t be in a hurry, take your time, slow down, and read the literature. We must be rigorous about what we do and follow the scientific method. Our findings will have a lifelong impact on health. We need to learn from the past to keep moving forward, despite challenges from people claiming to be “nutrition experts”. I encourage students and postdocs to get involved, and to volunteer with ASN, and not be afraid to ask questions. Being active in the society will help you to make connections and learn from those who have experience. Pass it on, learn from others and give back to help those behind you!

Dr. Murray-Kolb’s research interests include micronutrient deficiencies (assessment, causes, neurocognitive/neurophysiological/behavioral consequences, prevention), maternal and child interactions, child development, cognition and affect, biofortification, iron, anemia, and international health.

April 2017 Member Highlight Interview for ASN Nutrition Notes eNewsletter:

Interview with Robert Bertolo, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Vice Chair of ASN Publications Management Committee, and Immediate Past President of the Canadian Nutrition Society

Dr. Bertolo has been with the Memorial University of Newfoundland since 2002. He trained at the Universities of Guelph and Alberta studying nutrition and metabolism during development with a focus on amino acid and protein nutrition. As a Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism and Canada Research Chair in Human Nutrition, his current research involves the neonatal use of amino acids for growth and non-growth requirements.

1. How did you first get involved in biochemistry and nutrition? What made you interested in the field?

My undergraduate degree was in liberal arts with a minor in biochemistry and when it came time to choose my honours thesis topic, a course in nutritional biochemistry by Stephanie Atkinson piqued my interest. The work in the lab was exciting and that environment felt like home. So I started my MSc at Guelph in nutrition shortly thereafter and never looked back. What I really enjoyed about studying nutrition and metabolism is the combination of mechanisms with real world applicability. Anyone who eats is a self-declared expert in nutrition so the field is uniquely influenced by the public and is very dynamic. There’s always so much to learn, and even more to teach.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization?

As with most of us, I first joined ASN as a graduate student to get connected with the network of researchers and to present our data. It’s a testament to ASN’s support of trainees that we all join so early. My first EB was an unforgettable experience of excitement, nerves, intellectual stimulation and fun. Presenting to the names on your reference list is quite the experience, but also realizing they’re all just regular folks made it so rewarding. After that first conference, ASN became the home base for networking with international experts and learning about many other disciplines within nutrition.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?

Probably the most important asset to membership is the networking opportunities with nutritionists from around the world. ASN is the gathering place for nutritionists from around the world and it allows you to learn about peripheral topics in nutrition so you don’t get consumed by your own little niche. A key part of this networking is getting involved in ASN activities including RIS events, committees, judging, etc. That’s really where you meet wonderful people of all career levels and from various disciplines. Many collaborations (and friendships) are started in the hallway between sessions or at a poster or at a break during the committee meetings. The world of research today is all about team effort, so these connections are key to research success.

4. How do you see ASN’s role in the nutrition community?

I was president of Canadian Nutrition Society shortly after it too was formed from the merger of nutritional sciences and clinical nutrition societies. ASN was a model we used to build a community of nutritionists with different goals and priorities. We admired ASN’s ability to grow and be strong, while at the same time taking risks and constantly looking for opportunities. It was because of our similar goals that we established a joint membership opportunity and we continue to collaborate. And beyond Canada, ASN has made it a point to link with many nutrition societies internationally which is a testament to their role as global leaders.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research in which you are involved?

I am full professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, which is on the eastern edge of North America. It is a mid-size university in a beautiful location with a great collaborative atmosphere. For research, I am interested in amino acid metabolism and how it affects requirements in different situations. Currently, I am trying to determine how neonatal nutrition and methyl metabolism affect programming of risk for developing obesity and hypertension. From a nutritional perspective, my question is how much methionine is needed to maintain growth and methylation demands and which pathways take priority when nutrition is inadequate. We have some exciting data on the non-protein pathways of methionine and are able to quantify these fluxes using tracer kinetics. I also have other research on amino acid requirements during intestinal stress, such as in parenteral feeding and short bowel syndrome. Overall, I try to conduct all of my research by building a team of experts to enhance the research questions and outcomes. I feel this is the key to research success.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

The funding climate has become very difficult, especially for young researchers. There is a short-sighted emphasis to funnel more money to the top researchers which starves the more modest base. I think the key for young nutrition researchers is collaboration and to lead team approaches to big ideas. Don’t be afraid to have someone take you out of your comfort zone; we’re to learn after all. In terms of areas of future research, I think we need more understanding of nutrition behaviours and food environments. We have known for a long time what we should eat to be healthy, but we can’t seem to convince the public to do it. I am also concerned about food insecurity in North America and more work at the policy level is needed resolve this issue. And all of this relates back to the obesity epidemic, which is a very modern issue that has eluded effective solutions.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

I think the key message for trainees is to get involved. There are many opportunities out there that could lead to something great. Almost none of us foresaw our current path as students and so trying to plan a specific outcome is just not realistic. Get involved in ASN and other societies and meet people. Most of us are where we are after a chance meeting with someone at the right time and that happens by getting out there. So get involved!

Editor’s Note: Under Dr. Bertolo’s leadership, ASN and CNS began offering joint memberships in 2015.

March 2017 Member Highlight Interview for ASN Nutrition Notes eNewsletter:

Interview with Juan Rivera Dommarco, Director of the National Institutes of Public Health (INSP) of Mexico, President of the Latin American Nutrition Society (SLAN), and Executive Board Member of the Ibero-American Nutrition Foundation (FINUT)

Dr. Rivera is the newly appointed Director of the National Institutes of Public Health, where he has been since 1993. There he founded the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health in 2001. He is also Professor of Nutrition in the School of Public Health of Mexico and Adjunct Professor at Emory University. Dr. Rivera has published more than 400 scientific articles, book chapters, and books, and made more than 500 presentations and conferences at scientific events. He is past recipient of the Kellogg International Nutrition Research Award from ASN, granted for active engagement in research to benefit populations in nonindustrialized countries, as demonstrated through publications in the scientific literature, and actively engaged in training new scientists for international nutrition research.

1. How did you first get involved in nutrition epidemiology and research? What made you interested in the field of nutrition science?

My original motivation was poverty and inequity. Most Latin American Countries, including Mexico have profound inequities. Since childhood, I felt social inequalities were morally wrong. During high school, I read several books about social injustice, including Josue de Castro’s recounts of inequity, and a direct indicator of inequity was hunger and undernutrition. After high school, I spent some time in an indigenous community in Chiapas, where I witnessed poverty very closely. That is when I decided to devote my life to fight undernutrition, hunger, and their health effects. My undergraduate training was in nutrition and food sciences at the Universidad Iberoamericana, a Jesuit University in Mexico City with a mystic about poverty alleviation. I did my internship training with Dr. Joaquín Cravioto, a prominent Mexican scientist interested in undernutrition and mental development. He inspired me to become a nutrition scientist. I started reading the works of Scrimshaw, Habicht, and Martorell at INCAP in Guatemala and I corresponded with Jean-Pierre Habicht, who invited me to visit the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. After my visit, I decided to undergo postgraduate training in Nutrition at that University.

2. When and why did you first join ASN? What convinced you to join the organization?

I was first introduced to ASN in 1983, while I was a graduate student at Cornell University, and I officially became a member in 1991. My Committee Chair and mentor, Jean-Pierre Habicht, considered as part of the training of his students to attend the then called FASEB Meetings to present the results of our research. As many other of his students, I joined ASN and attended the meetings.

3. What aspects of ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally? What other aspects of your membership do you find useful as your career has progressed?
I appreciate the opportunity to keep up-to-date about new knowledge in the area of global nutrition, along with the high quality of the research results presented and lively discussions at Experimental Biology. I also advocate for ASN journals, in which I have published repeatedly, and I enjoy the opportunity to meet with colleagues and old friends during ASN meetings, where we often discuss new research and explore collaborations. More recently, ASN meetings have exposed my students to high quality works and allowed them to share the results of their studies with other nutrition scientists.

4. What aspects of your research do you foresee being most important for ASN members?

In Mexico, we face the double burden of undernutrition and obesity; therefore, we are conducting research aimed at solving these two problems, which together are of great interest to the Global Nutrition Council and to much of the ASN membership:
 We have been monitoring the magnitude and trends of the double burden of malnutrition in Mexico during the last 30 years through national nutrition surveys.
 We are conducting birth cohort studies looking at the relationship between maternal feeding and weight status and gain during gestation, as well as infant feeding practices and several outcomes at different points in time during childhood and adolescence, including appetite and satiety, growth, weight gain, cardiometabolic risks, and neurodevelopment.
 We are also generating knowledge for the design of policies for the prevention and control of the double burden of malnutrition, including programs for the prevention for stunting, anemia, and micronutrient deficiencies and policies for the prevention and control of obesity, including fiscal measures and school regulations, among others.
 Finally, we are conducting evaluations of the effects of several programs and policies applied by the Government for the prevention and control of the double burden of malnutrition.

5. Can you tell us more about your current position and the research activities in which you are involved?

On February 16, I was appointed as Director General of the Mexican National Public Health Institute (INSP), the research and training institution that houses the Mexican School of Public Health. We conduct research in several public health topics including: nutrition, obesity and non-communicable chronic diseases, infectious diseases, environmental health, health systems research, reproductive health, health promotion, etc. and we offer twenty-eight Masters and PhD programs. We have around 1,200 employees and close to 500 students in three campuses. I am personally involved in the research activities mentioned above: monitoring the double burden in the population, birth cohort studies to assess the effects of infant feeding practices, generation knowledge for the design of policies for the prevention and control of the double burden, and evaluating the effects of some of those policies applied by the Government.

6. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers today? Are there any areas where you would like to see more research?

One of the biggest challenges in Public Health Nutrition is translating research results into clinical and public health large-scale interventions and their rigorous evaluation for further improvement. To do this we need research from subcellular particles (molecular biology) to programs and policy. This includes linking the wealth of information coming from basic research, particularly from molecular biology, to clinical and public health innovative actions. We also need to study the drivers and determinants of the double burden of malnutrition and its health and environmental consequences using a systems approach, since nutrition problems are multifactorial and complex. We need to understand the food system but also the factors influencing behaviors (food and physical activity). We also need to study how to influence sound policy-making, including the roles of direct advising to policy makers and of social mobilization to generate demand for policy. Finally, we need to conduct rigorous evaluations in order to inform policy makers about improvements in current policies.
March 2017 ASN Nutrition Notes Member Highlight
Interview with Dr. Juan Rivera Dommarco – Page 3

7. Is there anything else you’d like to tell ASN members, especially students and postdocs?

To Students and postdocs: The phrase “First do no harm” (Latin Primum non nocere) is believed to have been part of the original Hippocratic oath taken by physicians. We nutritionists do not take a similar oath, but we should. You have the privilege to be a fraction of people in the world who have access to postgraduate training. You chose Nutritional Sciences, a field that can have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of millions of people. You should be generous, because life has been generous to you. You should pay back to those in poverty, to the neediest persons in the world, for the privilege to have reached postgraduate training, in an activity that can change the lives of many. However, most importantly, do not harm the nutrition and health of people by promoting or endorsing unhealthy food and beverage products. To the general ASN membership, I would like to invite you to attend the SLAN Congress in Mexico in late 2018, showcasing the best nutrition research from Mexico and Latin America.

Dr. Rivera’s research interests include the epidemiology of stunting (under-nutrition and obesity), the short- and long-term effects of under-nutrition during early childhood, the effects of zinc and other micronutrient deficiencies on growth and health, the study of malnutrition in Mexico, and the design and evaluation of policies and programs to improve nutritional status of populations.

Student Blogger

By Allison Dostal, PhD, RD

Dept. of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

ASN’s immediate Past President Patrick J. Stover, PhD, has been elected as a new member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of his achievements for original science and research in nutrition. In addition to his important work with ASN and the NAS, he directs Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences and maintains an active research program. Through all of these accomplishments, Dr. Stover hasn’t lost sight of the many pitfalls, challenges, and chance happenings that have led him to the successful career he has today. In this interview, Dr. Stover discusses his trajectory from graduate student to ASN’s 2015-2016 president and NAS member and offers valuable insights that both young and established scientists can take to heart.

“Relationships are so important in science. They’re absolutely critical.”

Planning a career after completion of a PhD takes considerable, thought, effort, and not a small amount of stress. And yet, there’s no denying the power of chance and serendipity. For Dr. Stover, attendance of a summer conference in Vermont just one week before defending his dissertation forever changed his career focus. “They had messed up room assignments – I was supposed to room with my PhD advisor, and instead I ended up rooming with chair of nutrition at Berkeley, Barry Shane. My intention was to do a postdoc in crystallography and catalytic antibodies, because my PhD is in biochemistry. But I got that room assignment, and Barry and I just got along so well that week. I kept trying to find my thesis to do my thesis corrections, but he kept taking it with him because he wanted to read it. I changed my postdoc plans and went to Berkeley in nutrition. That’s really how I got introduced to nutrition – through that gratuitous error in roommate assignments.”

When asked what he believed his greatest career accomplishment to be, Dr. Stover immediately responded, “Oh, that’s easy. The greatest accomplishment is finding and working with some absolutely wonderful collaborators and mentors. This also includes students. The successes have always been finding the right people to work with that enable you to address the important questions, of both scientific importance but also public health importance.”

Stover was trained as a metabolic biochemist when he first started his faculty position, with an interest in folate metabolism. He soon realized that the most important questions that matched his interests were related to fundamental mechanisms of the role of folate in birth defect prevention. “We knew it worked; we didn’t know why it worked. And going out and finding people who were experts in embryonic development or an expert in cancer, and being able to work with…people who were experts in these other areas who didn’t know about or weren’t familiar with the science that I knew, [we were able to] put those two together and solve interesting problems and learn new techniques.”

“All good research starts with an interesting, important question.”

This concept is “absolutely paramount” for young scientists to understand as they enter a research career, Stover says. Along with this, “You really have to love what you do. You have to love asking these questions and love doing research.” After having this foundation and investment in the work of discovery, the next step is ensuring that one has the proper training, tools, and collaborators to be able to address the important question at hand.

“You have to collaborate. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know what you don’t know and who you need to work with to be successful.”

Dr. Stover acknowledged that today, a lot of the important questions that many of us are interested in require multidisciplinary approaches and collaborative work, because these problems require different perspectives, tools, and techniques.

He also mentioned that throughout the years, ASN’s Graduate Nutrition Education Committee had written pieces about the importance of being an expert in something, but also having a broad knowledge base. “You have to be deep in what your expertise is – your disciplinary expertise and your technical expertise. But that’s not enough to address many of the important public health problems and the important scientific questions we have.”

Dr. Stover also recognized the increasing importance of communicating our science to other researchers and the general public. “A lot of us increasingly have to be well aware that what we’re interested in, and what excites us, has to be effectively communicated to external audiences so that they’re excited to support our work, [and to] the federal government so they’re excited to fund our work”.

Many of the issues Stover has had to navigate as a scientist are not unlike those that concern young investigators today. When discussing the biggest challenge that he’s had to face in his career, he emphasized the difficult transition from focused researcher to faculty member. “As academic faculty…we get our positions because we’ve been good at research. And then we get these faculty positions and we get put in offices, and we get asked to teach, and we get asked to manage personnel, and get asked to manage budgets and do some administration, for which we are utterly unqualified and untrained for, for the most part. I think being an assistant professor is really, really tough.” He noted vast improvements in career training tools since he first became an assistant professor in 1994, highlighting ASN’s workshops on effective teaching, mentoring, and skill sets needed for professional development.

As he continues to amass accolades and respect for his scientific career, Dr. Stover shows no sign of slowing down. When asked about the nutrition science-related goals he would like to achieve, he offered insight for both his own research program and for ASN. “In my own work, we continue to be really interested in the molecular basis of pathology related to folate metabolism, because we’re very interested in how folate requirements differ among individuals and how those affect important endpoints like genome stability and gene expression.” He also spoke about improving nutritional approaches to address diseases such as neuropathy, cancers, and neural tube defects, all of which are tied into folate’s role in human health. “We want to provide an engineering approach to understand how these things work and how nutrition throughout the life cycle can be used to improve the quality of life and wellness of life.”

He also intends on having a broader impact. Stover acknowledged that the number of ASN members elected into the National Academy of Sciences is very small, despite the excellent work produced by nutrition researchers that belong to ASN. “We need to get more outstanding nutrition scientists into greater visibility. I want to really work for that as well.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

USDA Logo
By: R. Alex Coots, Student Blogger

The below interview is a continuation of an interview with Angela Tagtow, Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the USDA. Part 1 of this interview can be found here.

Tell me about the challenges of nutrition policy.

I imagine health policy falling into one of two categories, little-p policy (LPP) or big-p policy (BPP). LPP is a socioecological approach to policy, using individuals and organizations to make decisions to improve public health that don’t require an elected official. BPP requires elected officials to create broader, more top-down initiatives to improve public health. Both types of policy working in concert can create greater collective impact.

Many people see BPP as the primary driver of policy, but LPP can be very effective to improve community health. The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative exemplifies the power of LPP. Through the initiative they recruited hundreds of community stakeholders to make commitments to improve public health whether that is at home, school, workplace or throughout the community. Starting the initiative was a slow process built on networking and strengthening relationships, but proved to make an impact in the lives of community members.

BPP also creates change, but has its own challenges. It can take several years for State or Federal programs to be fully implemented. For example, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed into law back in 2010, and we’re still seeing elements roll out. At the Federal level, Congress is another aspect that makes BPP challenging. Each Congressperson has a different perspective and set of values with respect to healthy food access, nutrition, public health. The ability to recognize their priorities and influencers is an important part of building support behind an initiative.

Given the number of different opinions and interests regarding public health, do you think there’s a way to make everyone happy?

There’s always going to be struggle. Every organization out there has a set of goals that are different from the next organization. Industry has an interest to protect its products and public health has an interest to keep people healthy. These goals are not always aligned, so there are challenges.

The media often reports on about industry trying to make changes to their offerings in the name of public health. Do you think these efforts are genuine?

Not all industry should be discounted. Some companies do consider how their products and services contribute to public health and are trying to make a difference. But for others, they need to evaluate whether they are doing all that they could be doing.

 

What are some of the future goals for the USDA and the CNPP?

The CNPP does much more than just produce the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and the iconic MyPlate. The Nutrition Evidence Library, a very rigorous review of the literature that directly informs the DGA. The CNPP also makes many tools and online resources available to assist individuals with eating and physical activity goals. ChooseMyPlate.gov and Supertracker.usda.gov are dynamic online resources for individual, families and professionals that put the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into action.

In the near term, the launch of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act are the top priorities. Some policymakers are challenging the validity of improving child health, and the House and Senate have inserted language in appropriation bills that will restrict USDA and HHS’s  abilities to create the Dietary Guidelines. It’s a very interesting political time regarding advancing the nutritional health of Americans.

Do you have any final advice for students?

Yes, be engaged. Having a good grasp of the content knowledge and political processes are good, but having contacts and networks is just as important. Knowing key people who create change and understanding how to work with them will allow you to be more effective in your endeavors. We need more people to get engaged with nutrition and public health efforts.

By Seth Morrison

My name is Seth Morrison, a final year medical student at the Medical School for International Health in Israel. I would like to share with you a taste of my experiences in the ASN’s unique Clinical Nutrition Internship.

Clinical nutrition was never really on my radar as something I might become interested in until halfway through medical school. It was then that I attended the International Congress of Nutrition held in Granada, Spain, where I met some members of the ASN. Like most medical students, the nutrition content in my courses was only enough to whet my appetite. I never had a chance to really delve into nutrition in-depth so that I would feel comfortable counselling patients or speaking intelligently about it with colleagues. The ICN conference opened my eyes to the many different research branches of the nutrition sciences as well as public health nutrition. The global trends in the “double burden” of malnutrition (undernutrition and overnutrition) in developing countries began to worry me, and I started learning about the many efforts that are underway to intervene. All of this made me want to find an opportunity to supplement my nascent interest in nutrition, and see which career avenues exist. I would like to incorporate nutrition into my medical practice and possibly conduct public health nutrition interventions in resource-limited settings worldwide. That is when I discovered this clinical nutrition internship.

I think my internship was an unparalleled opportunity for a medical student to get an insider’s look into the fascinating world of clinical nutrition and nutrition science. The variety of opportunities I had at the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado working with Dr. Nancy Krebs as my mentor gave me the ability to look at the role of nutrition in health from many different angles. I saw how important clinical nutrition is in the weekly outpatient clinics at Children’s Hospital. There were two separate clinics for kids with either growth faltering or obesity. These clinics are where I spent a great deal of my time. Throughout that time, I gradually gleaned the beauty in which skilled nutrition practitioners were able to make a real difference in outcomes as a team. Other physicians in these clinics, along with the amazing nutritionists, nurses, and a clinical psychologist, each contributed to my education in unique ways. They taught me the decision-making process of how to decipher clues to the causes of very different clinical nutrition problems (i.e. overweight vs. underweight), whether they be organic, lifestyle-related, or sometimes, in the case of young children, family food-related behaviors. This created the immensely enjoyable opportunity to decipher solutions to these myriad problems with clinical judgement and a creativity that respects the patient’s/family’s abilities and interests. I like to say today that in order to provide effective dietary counselling to patients, each doctor should have a little bit of a nutritionist inside them. This skill is one of the greatest gifts that the internship provided me for my own toolbox of clinical skills.

A sampling of the other components of my internship that made it very well-rounded were a research project, visits to WIC clinics, family eating well classes, several journal clubs and special nutrition lectures every week, and even a few nutrition-related Grand Rounds on Friday afternoons. I also completed a research project, which was a small metabolomics study on the relative serum levels of acylcarnitines and branched-chain amino acids in lean vs. obese groups of pregnant Guatemalan women.

This research component of the internship added an essential ingredient to the overall experience. Not only did I get to work with a fantastic and knowledgeable basic science researcher on a project in a burgeoning field of nutrition science (metabolomics), I also gained new skills and refined others that are needed in any research project I may become involved with in the future. This academic component reinforced the ever-present need for an army of researchers to inform the nutritional counsel given to patients in clinical medicine.

Inpatient care in the University of Colorado Hospital especially gave me the chance to see how crucial proper nutrition is for pre- and post-operative patients, burn unit patients, and of course in critical care. The nutrition support physician and the knowledgeable dietitians there broadened my knowledge of TPN and other topics in critical care nutrition research. In doing so, the truth was ingrained in me that nutrition is dynamic and can, in different circumstances, be prevention, treatment, or even both. Whether a patient is acutely ill or on a path of long term lifestyle change to reach a healthy weight, nutrition is likely to play an important role in their success!

The ASN Clinical Nutrition Internship satiated a special hunger for this nutrition niche in my medical education. I could not be more grateful and proud to have been awarded this unique opportunity, and the memories from it will linger with me for the rest of my career. As a soon-to-be physician, I’ve now learned that nutrition is a bit like music. It’s nice to listen to, but to really appreciate it, you must also learn to play some of your own notes.