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The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science Presents Academy’s First Research Award

The inaugural research award focuses on a critical knowledge gap—the intersection of nutrition and chronic disease prevention.

Published April 02, 2013

NEW YORK, April 2, 2013—The New York Academy of Sciences' Sacker Institute for Nutrition Science announces the winners of its inaugural research award—the first-ever research award from the Academy. The research award was designed to solicit proposals in a critical knowledge gap area; this year the theme was the intersection of nutrition science and chronic disease prevention. Three researchers will each receive $50,000 to pursue innovative research in this under-explored area.

The research award is intended to provide support to researchers seeking to close nutrition science knowledge gaps that could ultimately help to create solutions to large-scale health issues such as obesity and diabetes. The award will also serve as a stepping-stone to enable researchers to collect preliminary data and perhaps eventually seek additional funding.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for the Institute and the Academy to bring the best nutrition experts together and to drive innovative research that addresses knowledge gaps," says Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the Academy. "Through this research award we are marrying the needs of individual researchers—funding and support—with the need of the nutrition science community—namely, to operate under a strategic vision to achieve maximum impact," he adds.

The Sackler Institute launched its Global Research Agenda for Nutrition in collaboration with the World Health Organization in December. "This research award ties in perfectly—we are now able to address a vital gap in knowledge by funding research specifically in this area. We plan to align future efforts like this with our agenda in the coming years," says Mandana Arabi, MD, PhD, Director of The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science.

Award Winners
The research award winners were selected from a pool of 66 high-quality proposals by eight expert reviewers. The winners are:

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, The Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, for his proposal on Comparative effectiveness of population strategies to improve diet.

  • Dr. Jeannette M. Beasley, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, for her proposal Effects of intake of sugar on the development and prevention of major non-communicable diseases.

  • Dr. Kristina H. Lewis, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Atlanta, Georgia, for her proposal The KP personal shopper: A pilot to strengthen the impact of dietary advice.


Research Award Process
In order to select the winners of the research award, The Sackler Institute solicited abstracts from more than 400 scientists through an open call for abstracts 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 nutrition and non-communicable chronic diseases, timeline, etc.). As a result, 29 proposals were selected to be reviewed by a panel of external experts.

Eight 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:

  • Dr. Sharon Akabas, Institute for Human Nutrition, Columbia University,
  • Dr. Gerald Combs, Director, USDA Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center,
  • Dr. Ian Darnton-Hill, University of Sidney and Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy,
  • Dr. Sandra Engle, Primary Pharmacology Group, Pfizer,
  • Dr. Martin Hewison, UCLA Orthopedic Hospital,
  • Dr. Elvira Isganaitis, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard University,
  • Dr. Salomeh Keyhani, UC San Francisco and San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center, and
  • Dr. Sudhansu K Dey, Cincinnati Children's Hospital.


As a result of the review process, one project was selected from basic science (Dr. Beasley), innovative interventions (Dr. Lewis), and population-level research (Dr. Mozaffarian). The selection committee gave high importance to proposals addressing an important gap in nutrition science and instances where results could trigger new applications in the identification, prevention, or treatment of nutrition-related, chronic diseases.

For more information on The Sackler Institute's efforts to advance research, as well as the inaugural research award winners and judging panel, please visit and click on the "Advancing Research" tab.

Calls for abstracts for The Sackler Institute's second research award will begin in Fall 2013.

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 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