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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Announcing the 2016 Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigator

By Michael McBurney

Congratulations to Valerie Darcey, MS RD for being selected as the 2016 recipient of the ASN Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products LLC. Her presentation was entitled “Omega-3 status is related to prefrontal cortex-mediated impulse control in adolescents” Ms Darcey is advised by Dr John VanMeter, Georgetown University. Her doctoral research focuses on the relationship between diet, brain and cognitive development in adolescents.

Valerie follows in the footsteps of previous winners: 2015 Michelle Cardel, University of Colorado, Denver; 2014 Monique LeMieux, Texas Tech University; 2013 Christine Hutchinson, Iowa State University; 2012 Wanida Lewis, North Carolina State University; and  2011 Maria Carlota Dao, Tufts University.

In addition, 4 scholars were selected as finalists for the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) 2016 Young Minority Investigator Award Oral Competition:

  • Johanna Lopez PhD, RDN, LDN (Florida International University) whose presentation title was Association of vitamin D status with dual task physical performance in older adults. Her research focus is in diet and chronic disease. Johanna is mentored by Dr Adriana Campa.
  • Kripa Raghavan (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) whose presentation title was Maternal plasma folate, vitamin B12 levels and multivitamin supplementation during pregnancy and risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Boston Birth Cohort. Her area of interest is nutrition during pregnancy and neurocognitive outcomes in offspring. Kripa is mentored and advised by Dr Xiaobin Wang.
  • Johanna Y Andrews Chavez MS (Tufts University) whose presentation title was 'Molds attack rice – but we don’t know what to do’. A qualitative study of farming families’ perceptions of food safety in Banke, Nepal. Her areas of interest are international food policy and food safety. Johanna is mentored and advised by Dr Patrick Webb.
  • Babajide Ojo MS (Oklahoma State University) whose presentation title was Mango supplementation prevents gut microbial dysbiosis and modulates short chain fatty acid production independent of body weight reduction in C57BL/6 mice fed a high fat diet. His area of interest is the impact of functional foods on gut biology and health in models of obesity. Babajide is mentored by Dr Edralin Lucas.

To be eligible for the 2016 award, the young investigators must: be an ASN member, be a graduate or medical student, have submitted an abstract to a “Nutrition” topic category at Experimental Biology 2016, and have selected at least one of the following options on their application (African American, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans/Alaska Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and Natives of the US Pacific Islands). Young investigators were also required to submit a 100 word statement describing how the science is reflected in the abstract submission, their role in the study, and summary of career objectives.

Thanks to the 2015-16 ASN Minority & Diversity Affairs Committee, chaired by Margarita d Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD and the judges of the oral presentations and scientific merit. Judges for the 2016 competition were: Troy Lisa (University of Massachusetts), Kristie J Lancaster (New York University), April Stull (Penington Biomedical Research Center), Sonia Vega-Lopez (Arizona State University), Deshanie Rai (Bayer), and Michael McBurney PhD, FACN (DSM Nutritional Products).

Each year, ASN awards more than $90,000 in awards and travel grants to students and young professionals. DSM Nutritional Products is proud to sponsor the ASN Minority & Diversity Affairs Committee and Young Minority Investigator Oral Competition and Grand Prize.