American Society For Nutrition

Interview with Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Chair of the Medical Nutrition Council

Interview with Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Chair of the Medical Nutrition Council

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Medical Nutrition Council Chair Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton Discusses the Upcoming ASN Conference “Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition”

Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton is a long-time ASN member with a passion for clinical nutrition and research.  It is this passion that drove her to become a member, and now chair, of ASN's Medical Nutrition Council (MNC). She is also a distinguished member of the nutrition faculty at Penn State's College of Health and Human Development.  Throughout her time with ASN, Dr. Kris-Etherton has relished the opportunities the organization provides to interact with her fellow investigators.  “It is such a joy,” she says. “We are just able to talk science and focus on new research.”

Now, Dr. Kris-Etherton and the MNC are planning an event that will provide an excellent opportunity to “talk science” for ASN members as well as potential members and health professionals, and possibly the general public. That event is the upcoming Conference held by the MNC “Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition”, which will be held in San Francisco on February 25-27, 2011. Dr. Kris-Etherton was kind enough to talk with us a bit about the event and what participants have to look forward to.  

Interviewer: How did the “advances and controversies” idea for the clinical conference come about? What issue or need do you hope it will address?

Dr. Kris-Etherton: ASN had discussed having more conferences for our members for quite some time. We thought that the topic of controversies in clinical nutrition would be of particular interest to many of our members. There are so many different controversies in nutrition. So rather than trying to focus on one side of a specific topic, like obesity, this is a topic that allows us to cover a lot of different areas. As for what need it will address, I hope it will help people understand both sides of a particular position, which is always extremely valuable.

Interviewer: What should potential participants expect from the meeting? How will the experience compare to ASN's Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology that many of them have attended previously?

Dr. Kris-Etherton: Experimental Biology is an enormous meeting. Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition, on the other hand, will be a bit smaller with great focus on the topic of controversies. For example, they may hear a talk at EB on the benefits of sodium reduction, but they may not hear the other side of the story. This is an opportunity to get a good understanding of some of the controversial areas of nutrition and hear both sides.

Interviewer: Tell us a bit about the topics set for the meeting. What topics do you think will be most interesting to ASN's membership?

Dr. Kris-Etherton: The purpose of this conference is to address hot topics in clinical nutrition including dietary supplements, obesity, diet and disease, and nutrition, diet and aging. I am very excited about the entire symposium but I think the talks on the Microbiome and Brain Nutrient Sensing and Disease are particularly exciting because the science is new and potentially very important.  Some scientists believe that the bacteria in the GI tract play an important role in many chronic diseases, especially obesity.  In addition, brain nutrient sensing is exciting from the perspective of addictive behaviors related to nutrition (e.g., sugar and fat addictions). 

Interviewer: Similarly, who are some of the speakers that the MNC would like to highlight for the membership as they make the decision to attend the meeting?

Dr. Kris-Etherton: We are certainly excited for all of our speakers. I think some of the biggest sessions to look forward to will be Rob Russell and Paul Coates discussing the topic of supplements; Susan Roberts talk, “Is a Calorie a Calorie?”; Ed Saltzman and Bob Kushner will discuss Nutrition Management of the Geriatric Patient; and Tom Zeigler will speak on Feeding the Hospitalized or Institutionalized Patient. 

Interviewer: I noticed the call for abstracts has been issued. Are you expecting abstracts from some of ASN's student members, and what advice would you have for those of them who might be preparing these abstracts for the first time?

Dr. Kris-Etherton: We want to encourage student members and postdocs, of course, to submit their work as well as established investigators. Certainly, some of our younger members interested in submitting should speak to their advisor and get some help there. They should also work with more experienced members of their lab and review abstracts that have been submitted to EB. Most importantly, they should make sure they take the time to put together a strong abstract.