A Conversation with Dr. Nancy Krebs, Speaker at ASN's Annual Clinical Nutrition Update
ASN is hard at work preparing for the 76th Scientific Sessions and
Annual Meeting in conjunction with Experimental Biology (EB). This
year's meeting will be held from April 21-25 in San Diego. ASN's
annual meeting features plenary and award lectures, symposia, oral
and poster sessions, career services, and exhibits of scientific
equipment, supplies, and publications to interest the vast array of
clinicians, researchers, and other nutrition professionals expected
to attend. More information on EB 2012 can be found on the website.
We recently spoke with one of the many experts presenting at this
year's meeting, Nancy F. Krebs, MD, of University of
Colorado-Denver. She serves as the Section Head of Nutrition, Chair
of the Department of Pediatrics Promotions Committee, and as an
Associate Affiliate of the Department of Food Science and Human
Nutrition at Colorado State. Dr. Krebs will present her work on the
use of iron in clinical settings at the Clinical Nutrition Update, which will be
held in San Diego on Tuesday, April 24, from 10:30-12:30 PT.
Interviewer: Can you give us
some details on your upcoming presentation at the Clinical
Dr. Krebs: I plan to provide
clinicians with some of the recent findings about iron metabolism
as well as information on iron's adverse effects in certain
circumstances. I also hope to discuss the need for balance
between efficiency and potential toxicity in the face of illness.
From there, we'll move to approaches that help safely and
effectively deal with iron deficiency in the clinical
Interviewer: Are there other
presentations at the meeting you're particularly looking forward to
or issues you particularly want to hear addressed?
Dr. Krebs: I personally look
to this meeting for an update on the science in lactation and
breast-feeding as well as information on global nutrition.
Fortunately, those two issues are often closely linked. The other
area that I really look to ASN for is medical nutrition and medical
education in nutrition. I'm also involved in an obesity
Interviewer: What advice do
you have for first-time attendees of the meeting? What is it that
makes the annual meeting a “don't miss” event for you?
Dr. Krebs: I'd say study the
program! This meeting has such a vast array of offerings, which is
wonderful, but it can be overwhelming if you have not give it some
prior thought. I find that I could still benefit from doing
more program study. There are so many things going on, and so
many valuable discussions; it's very important to be able to use
your time to your best advantage each day.
I also recommend that attendees really make an effort to seek out
colleagues and use the meeting to network. So many of the
well-known people in nutrition are at EB. For a first-time
attendee, it's particularly important to note that this is where
the leaders in the field are likely to be found.
This is a “don't miss” event for me because of the quality of the
science presented. It gives you a heads up on what your colleagues
and the leaders in the field are investigating as well as hints of
what they are thinking about. You can get a refresher on areas in
which you need an update, as the symposia are good for that
purpose. Then, the abstracts give you exposure to a lot of
information in a short period of time, allowing you access to
information not yet in print.
Interviewer: In addition to
EB, what other aspects of membership do you find most helpful in
your professional life?
Dr. Krebs: The opportunity
it provides for networking and getting to know people in the
nutrition field. Over the years, it has given me the chance
to work with many of the leaders in the field by hearing them speak
and helping me feel more comfortable contacting them and beginning
to build up those relationships. ASN has also been the leader in
nutrition education and advocacy for the physician nutrition
specialist, a category to which I consider myself a member.
There is no other group that I am involved with that has tried as
hard to promote and recognize the place for nutrition in medical
practice and in medical training.
Interviewer: What initially
led you to pursue a career in nutrition, specifically, in pediatric
Dr. Krebs: I received my
Masters in nutrition before I went to medical school. As I was
contemplating my next step, I felt that the medical degree was the
best fit for me. Once I finished medical school, it seemed as
though much of that nutrition knowledge had been swamped in the sea
of information I had to learn. But during my medical training, I
felt I could never walk away from nutrition, seeing how important
it was to every specialty. I chose pediatrics because, of all
the sub-specialties, it seemed as though the value of nutrition and
the potential of nutrition was most evident there. Pediatricians,
by their training and by the patients we care for, tend to be more
likely to accept nutrition as part of every problem.
Interviewer: When in your
career did you decide to join ASN, and what led you to join?
Dr. Krebs: I have been a
member since 1990. I had seen ASN (at the time ASCN/ASNS) as the
parent organization for the premier journals in nutrition.
The American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition and The Journal
of Nutrition were, and remain, the go-to publications for
research in the field. So that's what initially made me think
of them. Over the years, the depth of the advocacy work that ASN
does has also continued to resonate with me. There are other
nutrition organizations, some that are more narrowly focused, but I
love that ASN represents the breadth of the field, whether it's
public health, epidemiology, basic science, animal models, and so
on, everything is there.
Interviewer: How does your
experience and research with pediatric patients differ from that of
your colleagues who primarily treat adult patients?
Dr. Krebs: Working with
parents and understanding adult behavior is certainly different. In
many ways, I think it may actually make it easier, because every
parent wants to do the best thing for their child. When they are
not doing that, it is generally because they do not understand how
what they're doing might be ineffective in terms of their child's
nutritional health and development. For that reason, most parents
are very receptive, perhaps more receptive than they would be on
their own behalf. We do not have to convince parents that nutrition
Interviewer: Is there
anything else you'd like to tell members or potential
Dr. Krebs: Nutrition in
medicine has been dominated by, understandably so, obesity
research, to the point that it has become almost as though there
are no other nutrition issues. From what I have seen as a physician
nutrition specialist, there are so many different aspects of the
field beyond obesity: micronutrition deficiencies, micronutrient
therapies, alternative medicine, and so on. That's what continues
to inspire my passion for the field. Whether it's nutrition support
in critical care, in the general medical ward, or out in the
community, nutrition is essential to medical care.