Simin Meydani Begins Term as President of the American Society for Nutrition
Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, became president of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) on June 1. Founded in 1928, the ASN is a 5,000-member nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together the world’s top researchers, clinical nutritionists and industry to advance the knowledge and application of nutrition science.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead an organization that is positioned to increase awareness of nutrition science,” says Meydani. “The advancement of nutrition research is an important piece in addressing obesity rates and chronic disease prevention, two leading public health problems.”
As president, one of Meydani’s top priorities is for the ASN to become more engaged with the public. “There seems to be increasing confusion about nutrition studies,” says Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “The ASN can play a key role in helping the public understand the complexity of the research results they’re reading and hearing about.”
Meydani arrived at Tufts in 1984, and became director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the HNRCA. Her research illuminates the role of nutrients in the aging process, particularly as it relates to immune response and the prevention of infectious and inflammatory diseases. In 2009, she was named director of the HNRCA, after serving as associate director for four years.
She will support the ASN’s efforts to enhance professional development for scientists at all stages of their careers. “As your career progresses, your responsibilities grow to include teaching, research, interdisciplinary teams, leading those teams, mentoring people, raising funds and being a spokesperson for your field, and you don’t always know how to do all of these,” Meydani says. “With training, our members could become more effective leaders and spokespeople for our field.”
Meydani has received numerous research grants from the USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some of which have supported exploration of emerging trends in international nutrition. “High carbohydrate, high sodium diets lacking in healthy fats and good sources of protein are not unique to the United States,” Meydani says. “As more countries adopt Westernized diets, we are seeing more people with symptoms of chronic diseases that could be prevented or managed with better nutrition. The ASN has already formed relationships with nutrition societies from Brazil, Korea, Japan, China and Africa, and I look forward to expanding efforts to other regions of the world such as the Middle East and forming partnerships to more effectively address nutrition-related problems globally.”
Meydani has been repeatedly recognized by her peers for her contributions to nutrition and aging science, having served as president of the American Aging Association from 2005 to 2006 and receiving the Robert H. Herman Award and Centrum Center Award from the ASN, plus awards from the American College of Nutrition and the American Aging Association, as well as international organizations. She has served and continues to serve on several governmental committees and editorial boards of scientific journals.
Meydani is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. She holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tehran University and a Ph.D. in nutrition from Iowa State University.