American Society For Nutrition

Interview with Dr. Nancy Krebs, Clinical Nutrition Update

Interview with Dr. Nancy Krebs, Clinical Nutrition Update

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
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 Nutrition Update?

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 setting.

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 session.

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 nutrition?

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 is important.  

Interviewer: Is there anything else you'd like to tell members or potential members?

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.  

February 2012