Newswise — BOSTON, MA (June 2, 2014)─ Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, became president of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) on June 1, 2014. Founded in 1928, ASN is a 5,000-member, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together the world's top researchers, clinical nutritionists and industry to advance the knowledge and application of nutrition.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead an organization that is positioned to increase awareness of nutrition science,” Meydani said. “The advancement of nutrition research is an important piece in addressing obesity rates and chronic disease prevention, two leading public health problems.”
“ASN staff are looking forward to working closely with Dr. Meydani on ASN’s continuing effort to become more global and diversified,” said ASN Executive Officer John Courtney, Ph.D.
As president, one of Meydani’s top priorities is for ASN to become more engaged with the public. “There seems to be increasing confusion about nutrition studies,” said Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “ASN can play a key role in helping the public understand the complexity of the research results they’re reading and hearing about.”
Meydani arrived at Tufts in 1984, and became director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. Her research illuminates the role of nutrients in the aging process, particularly as it relates to immune response and the prevention of infectious and inflammatory diseases. In 2009, she was named director of the USDA HNRCA at Tufts University, after serving as associate director for four years.
Meydani will support ASN’s efforts to enhance professional development for scientists at all stages of their careers. “As your career progresses, your responsibilities grow to include teaching, research, interdisciplinary teams, leading those teams, mentoring people, raising funds and being a spokesperson for your field, and you don’t always know how to do all of these,” Meydani said. “With training, our members could become more effective leaders and spokespeople for our field.”
Meydani has received numerous research grants from the USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some of which have supported exploration of emerging trends in international nutrition. “High carbohydrate, high sodium diets lacking in healthy fats and good sources of protein are not unique to the United States,” Meydani said. “As more countries adopt Westernized diets, we are seeing more people with symptoms of chronic diseases that could be prevented or managed with better nutrition. ASN has already formed relationships with nutrition societies from Brazil, Korea, Japan, China and Africa and I look forward to expanding efforts to other regions of the world such as the Middle East and forming partnerships to more effectively address nutrition related problems globally.”
Meydani has been repeatedly recognized by her peers for her contributions to nutrition and aging science, having served as president of the American Aging Association from 2005-2006 and receiving the Robert H. Herman Award and Centrum Center Award from ASN, plus awards from the American College of Nutrition, and the American Aging Association as well as international organizations. She has served and continues to serve on several governmental committees and editorial boards of scientific journals.
Meydani is also a professor at The Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University. She holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tehran University and a Ph.D. in nutrition from Iowa State University.
For three decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies. The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school's eight degree programs, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.