Marcia Greenblum is the current Director of Nutrition and Food Safety Education at the Egg Nutrition Center in Washington, D.C. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 25 years and has held numerous leadership positions in the nutrition community. However, she may never have discovered the field if it had not been for a nutrition class she took as an undergraduate--a choice that led her to switch schools and pursue her new career path.
Marcia went on to pursue her dietetic work at Hunter College in New
York, followed by her Masters degree in Food, Nutrition, and
Institutional Administration at the University of Maryland.
While there, she also won a research assistantship at the USDA
Human Nutrition Research Center, where she did research for the
Nutrient Composition lab and the Proteins lab. The experience
further enriched her understanding of nutrition research. “That
experience let me see what it was like to work in the field on an
experimental basis,” she says. “It really gave me an
appreciation for where [nutrition] information comes from.”
Even though it might seem as though Marcia fell into the field,
hearing her talk about nutrition shows that she always belonged
here. “Really I think I've always been interested in nutrition
because my mother impressed on us that our health was a personal
responsibility and that a major component of taking care of your
body was what you ate,” she explains. It is that philosophy
that she has worked to incorporate into her long-standing career in
nutrition and food safety. Marcia was recently kind enough to
take time out from her work to speak with us about her experience
as a member of ASN and what she foresees for the future of
Interviewer: Where in all of
this did you first encounter ASN? What motivated you to get
involved with the organization?
Marcia: I worked for the egg
industry for some time and, in my office, I would see The American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. Once I saw the wealth of information there,
I became very interested in the society behind that
information. So, it was really because I was involved in
monitoring nutrition research for my industry that ASN came to my
attention. I found that ASN was a very clinical source of
information as well as a very professional one, which is what
motivated me to want to be a part of it.
Interviewer: Once you joined
the organization, what aspects of ASN membership do you find most
Marcia: Obviously the
journals are terrific. Beyond that, I come back so charged
when I go to the ASN Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions at
Experimental Biology (EB). I learn so much. When you've
been in the industry for a while, you feel like it's almost doing
the same thing over and over again. You start to feel like
there's nothing new. Then, you hear all this exciting
research when you come to EB and it makes you excited again to be
in the field. I love going to EB. I love the poster
sessions. I think they are exciting and interesting. And I
really like the way they set up EB where they invite several
experts on a particular topic to share their information and their
different angles of research. The short courses are wonderful
as well, because they give you little bits of information and give
you the tools to follow up on them.
Interviewer: In addition to
the journals, what are your favorite sources of information on
nutrition through ASN and on a larger scale?
Marcia: I really enjoy the
newsletters, particularly the public policy newsletter. So, I
certainly try to follow all of those.
Interviewer: What recent
advances in nutrition research are you most excited about? How do
you think they will change the direction of the field?
Marcia: A lot of the genetic
research, genomics. It's fascinating. For my industry,
we are following the genetics of choline polymorphism that increase
need. From there, I have learned so much more about the
progress towards personalized nutrition that we are marching
towards. That progress towards individualized nutrition is
going to completely change the direction of the field. It already
Interviewer: Similarly, what
do you think some of the major challenges industry scientists face?
What strategies are being used/might be used to overcome
Marcia: Having said how
quickly things are changing, I think one of the major challenges to
the industry is that people who are not involved in the research
are not keeping up with those changes and those people who have
built careers on possibly faulty or less sound research that didn't
have the advantage of the technological advances are not willing to
accept the new research. So, I think we need to address how to plan
for obsolescence in nutrition policy and nutrition as a
In order to do that, there needs to be an agreement amongst the
dominating professional societies. I think a great step has
been the integrity in research rules that ASN helped develop and
support. It is fabulous because industry, academia, and
government need to work together to continue the research. If
it is looked upon as second-class when it's supported by a specific
industry, then we are not going to see as much progress.
Industry has the funding and has the interest so they should have a
way to do honest research and allow it to be accepted for its
integrity. I think these guidelines are a great way to
facilitate that shift in thinking.
Interviewer: Is there
anything else you would want ASN members to know about your
experience with the organization?
Marcia: Yes! I think that
the research interest sections are still a bit under-appreciated.
They are still evolving, but they are becoming better known and are
a really great source for information. So, I would certainly like
to see my fellow members get more involved there.