American Society For Nutrition

Interview with Dr. Joel Mason, ACCN14 Co-Chair

Interview with Dr. Joel Mason, ACCN14 Co-Chair

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
A Conversation with ACCN 2014 Program Committee Co-Chair Dr. Joel Mason

J. Mason (Web).jpg

ASN's 2014 Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition conference is currently accepting abstract submissions. Interested presenters may submit their abstracts until September 16. This year's meeting is December 4-6 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, and will provide a unique opportunity for nutrition researchers and clinical practitioners to confer on the latest advancements and best practices in clinical nutrition. The meeting is co-chaired by Joel Mason, MD, of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. In this interview, Dr. Mason discusses what makes ACCN different from other scholarly conferences and what attendees can expect from this year's meeting.

Interviewer: What makes this different from other conferences? What are its particular advantages?

Dr. Mason: First of all, one of our major intents in holding this meeting is to specifically focus on topics that will be immediately relevant to health care professionals. That is different from a meeting like ASN's Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology (EB), which has scattered sessions that include practical information for those of us in the field who see patients. This conference will be highly useful for any health care professional interested in incorporating nutritional principles into the management of their patients. In addition to covering topics that are relevant to patient care, we try to pick topics that generate a lot of interest, and frankly, a lot of controversy.  For many of these issues, we do not have a definitive answer, so we gather experts from around the world to discuss where the state of our knowledge is currently - what we know, and what we don't know. In fact, we have constructed some of our symposia to bring together experts that have different opinions, providing health care professionals with several perspectives on each issue.

Interviewer: What is the theme of the conference this year?

Dr. Mason: That is one thing that makes ACCN unique: we do not restrict ourselves to a theme. Instead we try to cast our net very broadly for these meetings, covering a number of topics in which the research is advancing very quickly. The focus for this meeting is then dictated by those topics that will be of most use for healthcare practitioners in patient care settings.

Interviewer: What lectures are you most excited about?

Dr. Mason: I think that it is fair to say that I'm excited about many of the sessions. I am personally chairing a session "Nutrition in the Prevention and Management of Cancer: Recent Advances" on applying nutritional principles to cancer prevention and cancer treatment. While I have a great personal investment in that session, I am equally interested in hearing from our other speakers on topics such as "Malnutrition: New Criteria for Diagnosis and Impact of the Affordable Care Act."

Interviewer: Are there any new elements to this year's conference?

Dr. Mason: As we have begun to build the program for this year's meeting, we are looking extensively at the agendas for the last several years. Our goal, of course, is to ensure we are not just repeating topics we have already covered. Those that have been touched on in past years are in the minority. They have been included because of significant advances in the research on that issue over the past year. For that reason, I think that even attendees who may have already been to this meeting will find that the vast majority of what they hear will be new.

In 2014, we are also introducing Clinical Briefs, abbreviated presentations on topics such as nutrition and eye disease.

Interviewer: What do you hope attendees learn and take away from #ACCN14?

Dr. Mason: My biggest hope for this conference is that it will have an exciting enough agenda that we will attract health care professionals who have not historically incorporated nutrition into their practice. I also hope that those individuals will walk away from this conference convinced that they have a lot to gain from cultivating their knowledge of nutritional principles and making those principles a part of their practice.  I sincerely hope we can demonstrate to them how much their patients have to gain from those efforts.

For the attendees who already consider themselves part of the field and are already convinced of nutrition's role in delivering expert health care, I hope we can impress upon them how quickly the research in the field is advancing and keep them abreast of those changes. You can't just rely on what you learned five or three or only a year ago, so I hope they will use this meeting as an opportunity to update their knowledge base.

August 2014