American Society For Nutrition

Interview with ASN Member, Marcia Greenblum, RD

Interview with ASN Member, Marcia Greenblum, RD

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
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 nutrition.

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 valuable?

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 is.

Interviewer: Similarly, what do you think some of the major challenges industry scientists face? What strategies are being used/might be used to overcome them?

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 science.

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.