NEW YORK, December 17, 2012—In response to the pressing challenges of malnutrition, which affects two billion people globally, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences (the Academy), will unveil and activate today a global research agenda for the nutrition science community.
The research agenda, developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, is the result of a two-year collaborative effort with more than 300 experts in nutrition science and public health. This marks the first large-scale effort to assemble input from thought leaders in the field to uncover critical knowledge gaps that hinder true progress in the fight against malnutrition-with the ultimate goal of designing more effective interventions for both undernutrition and overnutrition.
"Many interventions aimed at tackling complex nutrition challenges have been founded on 'common sense' approaches, rather than proven science, often because the necessary research has never been undertaken," says Mandana Arabi, MD, PhD, Director, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science. "We believe that this research agenda will provide a roadmap for the creation of evidence-based interventions to help solve malnutrition in developed and developing nations."
Malnutrition, which affects nearly one-third of the world's population, causes a range of serious and costly health problems, from disruptions in infant development to increased susceptibility to diseases and death. The impact of poor nutrition is profound and can extend far beyond health outcomes: on a global scale, malnutrition can diminish workforce capacity, threaten political stability, and disrupt economic progress. While these challenges are well documented, the complex factors contributing to malnutrition are still not fully understood.
The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science kicks off a two-day conference today, convening global experts across the nutrition field. Participants will explore how to best activate the research agenda findings via real-world initiatives to help address some of these challenges.
Distinguished keynote speakers include: Francesco Branca, MD, PhD, Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization; Jean-Pierre Habicht, MD, PhD, Graduate Professor of Epidemiology, Cornell University; and Robert E. Black, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of International Health and Director of the Institute for International Programs of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"The research and ideas discussed today are of critical importance not only to those in the nutrition field but to global leaders who need to make increasingly important, evidence-based decisions about nutrition," says Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the Academy. "By convening a diverse and coordinated nutrition science network, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science is helping to advance the dialogue that can lead to a better path on the road to tackling malnutrition."
The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science, formed through a partnership between the Academy and The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, has a three-pronged mission to advance nutrition science research, mobilize communities, and apply knowledge to work happening on the ground. The Institute is uniquely positioned, through its partners, leadership, and affiliation with the Academy—whose Board of Governors and President's Council include 27 Nobel laureates and other prominent leaders of academia and industry—to convene a dialogue that will allow researchers to fill the knowledge gaps needed to ultimately design and implement more effective interventions for malnutrition.
Additional speakers at the conference include: Tahmeed Ahmed, PhD, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research; Ellen Piwoz, ScD, MHS, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Laurette Dube, PhD, McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence; and Raoul Bino, PhD, Wageningen University and Research Centre. For more information about the research agenda, visit www.nutritionresearchagenda.org.
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About The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science is dedicated to advancing nutrition science research and knowledge, mobilizing communities, and translating this work into the field. The Institute is generating a coordinated network across sectors, disciplines, and geographies that promotes open communication; encourages exchange of information and resources; nurtures the next generation of scientists; and affects community intervention design and public policy changes. Visit www.nyas.org/nutrition for more information.
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.