A Conversation With ASN Scientific Programs Committee Chair Dr. Douglas Burrin
ASN members are working hard to prepare for ASN's Scientific
Sessions & Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology (EB)
2012, which will be held from April 21-25 in San Diego.
At the center of that planning process is the
Scientific Programs Committee with Chairman Dr. Doug
Burrin. Dr. Burrin is a professor at the USDA Children's
Nutrition Research Center and also the director of Fellowship
Research Training in Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition
Department of Pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine. In a
recent interview, Dr. Burrin shared details about the upcoming
meeting's most exciting sessions as well as insight from his own
experience with ASN and EB.
Interviewer: What factors
contributed to your decision to pursue a career in nutrition?
Dr. Burrin: I became
interested in nutrition, initially, when I was training in graduate
school. I undertook a research project as part of my work to
complete my PhD that was focused on understanding the role of
nutrition in the growth of the visceral organs, primarily the liver
and gut. That interest, and the fact that I saw my peers
working in nutrition presenting quality, cutting-edge research at
EB convinced me to continue pursuing nutrition research.
Interviewer: When and why
did you decide to join ASN?
Dr. Burrin: I became a
member when I was in graduate school. At that time, the only
way to get The Journal of
Nutrition was through the library or by becoming a
member. I joined ASN at that point as a student so I could
start receiving JN. It also
enabled me to receive discounted admission to EB. Those are still
two important aspects of membership. We can get access to the
journals through various means online, but to get really timely
content from the journal, you need to be a member.
Interviewer: What aspects of
ASN membership have you found most useful, professionally?
Dr. Burrin: In addition to
those two benefits, I have realized that, over the years, being a
member of ASN has helped me become more involved in Experimental
Biology and, by doing so, allows me to network with many of my
colleagues in nutrition research. I have also found that ASN
is the best way in this field to enhance your career development by
making yourself eligible for awards; there are now a number of
awards, including junior investigator awards, that ASN offers. It
also gives you the chance to get involved in a number of different
groups, like the RIS groups and other various committees that allow
you to start taking on leadership roles that really impact the
future of the society.
Interviewer: What are you
looking forward to most about April's annual meeting at EB?
Dr. Burrin: As the
Scientific Program Chair, I am actively involved in developing the
EB program. There are very interesting sessions coming up this
year. I am particularly interested, of course, in the ASN nutrition
sessions, but because EB is a large meeting that also includes
other scientific societies, it offers attendees the opportunity to
be exposed to diverse areas of biology. That kind of exposure is
particularly important for our members because nutrition is, by
nature, such an integrative science. I'm always excited to see what
is new and cutting edge. EB is the best place to get this
information before it is published in the journals.
Interviewer: Which topics
are you most excited about, and what new features or events should
attendees be aware of?
Dr. Burrin: This year's
meeting will have a number of themes. One of these is the
microbiome and the clinical nutrition significance of probiotics
and prebiotics. One day of the meeting, including our presidential
symposium, will be devoted to that area. We also have a half-day
session that provides an integrative look at energy balance,
specifically how energy inputs and energy expenditure affect risk
for obesity, a major public health issue. We also have several
sessions on fructose, which has become a hot topic nutritionally as
well as in the public health arena. There will be a session
on the biology of fructose as well as a “controversy” session where
speakers will discuss the nutritional value of fructose and the
evidence of adverse metabolic effects. Another day will focus
on dietary fats, adipose tissue function, and the role of fats in
cardiovascular disease. Finally, this year's meeting will continue
to offer an Education Track Program that provides one or two
sessions each day designed to highlight career development
opportunities and will also be useful for nutrition
Interviewer: What other
clinical topics do you think will be most relevant and interesting
Dr. Burrin: Obesity is, as
always, a recurrent clinical topic in the meeting, and one
afternoon there will be a clinical nutrition update sponsored by
the Medical Nutrition Council. Based on a 2010 needs assessment of
nutrition educators, session content will provide a concise but
richly informative update on five topics that have seen rapid,
recent changes. The 2.5 hour session will include the
-Breast Cancer Survivorship: What is the Role of Diet and Physical
-Nutrition in Oral Health
-Iron Supplementation: When and When Not?
-Celiac Disease: Update on Diagnosis and Treatment
-Update on Hospital Nutrition Support
Interviewer: Do you have any
tips for submitting proposals and abstracts?
Dr. Burrin: The most
important advice is to read the guidelines, which can be found on
website. They should also contact the ASN Managing
Director of Education & Professional Development, Gwen
Twillman. Specific questions, ideas, and concerns about funding can
be addressed to either Gwen or myself.
Interviewer: Is there
anything else you'd like to tell members?
Dr. Burrin: I want to urge
our members to continue to submit and think about new symposium
topics or activities that they think might be important to present
or otherwise incorporate into the program at EB. The
organization's goal with this meeting is to be as innovative and
cutting edge as possible, and it is essential that the membership
plays an active role in thinking about these issues, developing
proposals, and bringing them through the review process as well as
interacting with staff and officers with ASN and myself about the
ideas they may have. I encourage them to get together, particularly
with mentors or other established colleagues, to consider finding
the best experts to submit a proposal and acquire the
funding. ASN does provide funding for symposia, but there are
many avenues to bring in funding from industry, various
foundations, and government institutions such as NIH and the