Notable nutritionists: BNF celebrates early career scientists from around the world
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has announced the recipients of its 2020 BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award, which is now in its third year of recognising early career excellence in the field of nutrition science.
This year’s awards celebrate the accomplishments of nutrition scientists from all corners of the globe, with first place being awarded to Dr Imre Kouw, a post-doctoral researcher at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne for her research into the impact of intermittent fasting on skeletal muscle metabolism.
Intermittent fasting is of growing interest in nutrition science research, and Dr Kouw’s research relates specifically to how dietary fasting strategies can affect a condition known as sarcopenic obesity, which is characterised by having a low muscle mass and reduced physical performance combined with excess body fat; a growing problem in older people.
Dr Kouw said: “It is an honour to receive the 2020 BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award, especially alongside so many other brilliant nutrition scientists making great progress in their field. Over the coming years, I aspire to continue advancing the research field in muscle metabolism and investigate effective nutritional strategies to attenuate muscle loss during acute and chronic disease in the aged population – an area of nutrition science of increasing importance due to the growth of the global population aged over 65.”
The two runner-up places have been presented to Dr Taryn Smith, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Global Nutrition, University of California Davis, and Dr Nanna Julie Olsen, a post-doctoral researcher at the Research Unit for Dietary Studies at the Parker Institute, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Denmark.
Dr Smith, who completed her PhD at the University of Surrey in the UK, has been acknowledged for her work on thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency; a condition known as beriberi that is identified in infants that have an inadequate intake of this vitamin from breastmilk, under circumstances in which the mother herself has insufficient thiamine intakes and status. She is currently coordinating a hospital-based study in northern Laos, investigating thiamine responsive disorders in Laotian infants and young children.
Dr Smith commented: “Throughout my career, I hope to make an impact in supporting our understanding of the effects micronutrient deficiencies have on health outcomes in high-risk populations, particularly infants, children and pregnant and lactating women, while developing targeted strategies to improve health and nutritional status. I am delighted to have been selected as a runner-up for the Early Career Scientist Award; it is a huge privilege.”
Dr Olsen has been noted for her work looking into the effect consuming sugary beverages has on a child’s metabolism. Her research on this subject is highlighted to be of potential public health significance due to its importance in informing strategies for the prevention of obesity in children.
Dr Olsen said: “Childhood obesity is an issue affecting a large number of countries around the world. It is brilliant to have been recognised for my research into the metabolic effects sugary drinks have on children, and this award has spurred me and my team on to keep doing what we’re doing, hopefully making a real difference to this global issue.”
Applicants to the BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award are judged on their contributions to nutrition science, the scientific merit and clarity of communication of their work, as well as their potential to become future leaders in the field. The award is open to students who are currently studying human nutrition, or a related field, as well as those within three years of completing an MSc or PhD in these areas.
For winning first prize Dr Kouw will receive a year’s online subscription to Nutrition Bulletin, the official journal of the BNF plus a £500 honorarium. Dr Kouw, along with runners-up, Dr Smith and Dr Olsen, has also been invited to write a review paper for the BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award section of Nutrition Bulletin, which will be published online in November and in print in December.
The awards are made possible due to BNF’s management of the Drummond Memorial Fund, which was established in 1954 to commemorate the work and efforts of Sir Jack Drummond, who made significant contributions to developments in the application of nutrition science for public health.
The BNF’s Science Director, Sara Stanner, commented: “The BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award is one of only two awards in the UK to celebrate the achievements of early career scientists working in the field of nutrition, and it’s fantastic to have received such high quality applications from all around the globe – with submissions from the UK, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and the USA. In today’s competitive research environment, awards like this play an important role in identifying excellence at the early career stage and help to pave the way for potential leaders of the future, attracting the funding and support they need to develop their research.”
This year’s BNF Drummond Early Career Scientist Award winners and runners up will be celebrated at the BNF Annual Day in November.
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IAbout the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)
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BNF was established 50 years ago and exists to deliver authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition in the context of health and lifestyle. The Foundation’s work is conducted and communicated through a unique blend of nutrition science, education and media activities. BNF’s strong governance is broad-based but weighted towards the academic community. BNF is a registered charity that attracts funding from a variety of sources, including contracts with the European Commission, national government departments and agencies; food producers and manufacturers, retailers and food service companies; grant providing bodies, trusts and other charities. Further details about our work, governance and funding can be found on our website (www.nutrition.org.uk) and in our Annual Reports.