The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science Names Winners of Research Award (1)

The research award this year focuses on work being pursued in a critical area— the nutritional status of adolescent women.

NEW YORK, March 2, 2015-The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences announces the winners of its third annual research award. Three researchers will each receive $50,000 to pursue innovative research projects related to the nutritional status of adolescent women. The research award is intended to provide support to researchers concentrating their work on under-explored, and often under-funded, research topics.

In addition to representing an acknowledged research gap, the topic represents a time period during which nutrition interventions are particularly critical-for adolescent women themselves, as well as for any future offspring they may have.

The Sackler Institute is pleased to note that the winners' research projects comprise populations from diverse geographical areas, from Africa to the United States. The projects also represent diverse points along the research spectrum-from studies focused on developing more effective screening tools for anemia to delivering on-the-ground micronutrient interventions. 

The Sackler Institute launched its Global Research Agenda for Nutrition Science in collaboration with the World Health Organization in December 2012, as a roadmap for the nutrition science field. Since then, the Sackler Institute has been directly funding research in gap areas identified in the Global Research Agenda, with the aim of impacting health by answering key questions in nutrition science.

Award Winners

The research award winners were selected from a pool of 36 high-quality proposals. The winners are:

  • Edward A. Frongillo, PhD, Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, for his proposal, "Understanding conceptualizations and social environment for improving pre-pregnancy planning and nutrition for adolescent women in Harare, Zimbabwe."

 

"Promoting the health and nutrition of undernourished adolescent girls is a high global priority, but many in low-income countries are poorly prepared for pregnancy and the roles of being adult women and mothers. We want to learn about how adolescent girls in Harare, in the context of their social environment, understand pregnancy, planning for pregnancy, and nutrition, with the ultimate goal of developing effective ways of helping address their needs for information and preparation."

 

  • Mark J. Manary, MD, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, for his proposal "Treating pregnant adolescents with moderate malnutrition in Malawi," which focuses on interventions such as ready-to-use therapeutic food.

 

"I am so delighted that the Sackler Institute has chosen to take the bold step to support the nutritional health of older adolescents in Malawi through our antenatal project. These girls are so vulnerable and the deleterious consequences of malnutrition will extend for two lifetimes if not ameliorated. We look forward to helping hundreds of girls."

 

  • Deepa Sekhar, MD, MSc, Penn State College of Medicine, for her proposal, "Improving detection of iron deficiency among United States adolescent females."

 

"In the United States, 9% to 16% of adolescent females are iron-deficient with potentially negative effects on school performance, mood disorder, and concentration.  Iron deficiency screening in primary care is based on testing for anemia, a late-stage indicator of iron deficiency, and misses most with the condition. Screening is not tailored to age or other risk factors specific to adolescents. In short, we use the wrong test, potentially at the wrong time, on the wrong women. Our study aims to develop a clinical risk assessment questionnaire to identify adolescent females at high-risk of iron deficiency, which we plan to incorporate into a sensitive and cost-effective primary care screening model."

Research Award Process

In order to select the winners of the research award, The Sackler Institute solicited abstracts from more than 700 scientists, and disseminated the call on the Institute's website and through various networks. The Sackler Institute staff carefully reviewed the proposals and evaluated adherence to the basic qualifications that had been spelled out in the application (including research methods, focus on the topic of interest, timeline, etc.). As a result, 16 proposals were selected to be reviewed by a panel of external experts.

Reviewers were invited to grade, rank, and provide comments on the abstracts in their areas of expertise. The reviewers are either members of The Sackler Institute's various Working Groups, or were nominated as highly respected experts in specific research areas related to the proposals that had been submitted.

The reviewers included:

James Berkley, MD, KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme;

Hilary Creed-Kanashiro, MPhil, Instituto de Investigación Nutricional, Peru;

Amy L. Frith, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, Ithaca College; and

Rebecca Stoltzfus, PhD, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

The selection committee gave high importance to proposals addressing an important gap in nutrition science and instances where results could trigger new processes, behavioral interventions, and support systems relating to the nutritional status of adolescent women.

The Sackler Institute would like to express its gratitude to the judges for their time and efforts.

For more information on the winners and judging panel, as well as The Sackler Institute's efforts to advance research, please visit www.nyas.org/WhatWeDo/Nutrition and click on the "Advancing Research" tab.

 

About The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences 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 more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, 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.