A Global Research Agenda for Nutrition Science
Scientific researchers have made significant strides in establishing the importance of good nutrition in human health, but there remain many inadequately answered questions—from the effectiveness of past and current nutritional interventions to the core functioning of many of the biological processes involved. For real progress to be made against the global crisis of malnutrition, a consensus must be built around the most critical of these knowledge gaps.
The Sackler Institute, with the World Health Organization (WHO), led an initiative to identify research gaps in nutrition science, which resulted in the publication of A Global Research Agenda for Nutrition Science(2013). The Research Agenda was a two-year process in which 55 researchers were involved and a web-based consultation secured feedback from more than 100 stakeholders in the nutrition science community—from both developed and developing countries.
Activating the Research Agenda
The Sackler Institute then partnered with the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University to mobilize commitments that address the research gaps focused on the Research Agenda’s Focus Area 2: Unresolved Issues of Nutrition in the Lifecycle. The Research Agenda identified challenges in understanding the role of nutrition in Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), characterizing normal growth and optimal development during early life, describing and understanding contextual factors, and understanding the relationship between markers of malnutrition (e.g., stunting in children, low height, or BMI in women), and functional outcomes.
As a first step in this process, an invitation-only preparatory meeting was held on September 26, 2013, where 23 researchers from academia, non-profit organizations, and the private sector met at the New York Academy of Sciences to move this process forward. During the meeting, participants: formulated realistic and pragmatic research questions; identified critical partners that must be involved to tackle them; and, brainstormed about potential collaborative approaches for supporting research.
Participants agreed to hold a two-day Forum at Wageningen University on June 16-17, 2014, with the objective of collectively reviewing and building consensus around research projects specifically focused on maternal and child nutrition. Learn more about the Forum here.
Since the Forum, the working teams have continued to refine the proposals, specifically around the themes related to adolescent girls and dietary assessment (Themes 1 and 3). The Sackler Institute is coordinating a collaborative research initiative aimed at generating research on adolescent nutrition in females through a consultative process involving scientists across sectors and disciplines. For more information about this research initiative, contact Associate Director Mireille Mclean at firstname.lastname@example.org