ASPEN Provides Critical Input to NIH Nutrition Research Thought Leaders' Panel

June 21, 2017, Silver Spring, MD: This week, the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) contributed critical perspectives to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Nutrition Research Thought Leaders’ Panel. ASPEN’s President-Elect, Dr. Nilesh M. Mehta, participated in the panel, which is part of the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force. Tasked with coordinating and accelerating progress in nutrition research, the Task Force is working to develop and implement a strategic plan for nutrition research across all NIH Centers and Institutes.

Panel members have been charged with prioritizing gaps and identifying opportunities for NIH’s nutrition research. This strategic plan will be developed over the next two years and implemented by a team of senior scientists appointed by the task force. “Given the prevalence of malnutrition, particularly in hospital settings, ASPEN is very excited to have Dr. Mehta represent us on to the Nutrition Research Thought Leaders’ Panel,” said ASPEN CEO, Debra BenAvram. “His input will be invaluable.” In 2013 alone, nearly two million hospital inpatient stays involved malnutrition. If left untreated, approximately two thirds of malnourished patients will experience a further decline in their nutrition status during hospitalization, which leads to longer hospital stays and the risk of readmission. In addition to the human cost, there is a significant economic cost as well – as much as $156.7 billion per year.

Dr. Mehta, Director of Critical Care Nutrition at Boston Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology (Pediatric Critical Care) at Harvard Medical School, was invited to participate in the panel for his extensive knowledge and research in the area of metabolic aspects and optimal nutrition therapy in critically ill children, and its impact on clinical outcomes. His scholarly pursuits have focused on describing the metabolic response to stress, energy and protein metabolism, changes in body composition and strategies to optimize nutrient intake in children with critical illness, injury and following surgery.

Dr. Mehta was also the lead author of ASPEN’s new paradigm for defining pediatric malnutrition. He is the Chair and lead author of the upcoming guidelines for pediatric critical care nutrition, jointly approved by ASPEN and the Society for Critical Care Medicine and has performed large international nutrition studies with over 1700 mechanically ventilated children enrolled from over 16 countries. His research also involves the use of stable isotope methods to elaborate protein turnover in critically ill

children and describe body composition in children with chronic illnesses. He collaborates with other laboratories for translational research in the area of oral microbiome, proteomics and animal models of protein catabolism.

In 2007, Dr. Mehta established the Critical Care Nutrition Program at Boston Children's Hospital. He has authored over 90 original scientific publications in a variety of leading journals, and his manuscripts have been cited over 1700 times in the literature. Dr. Mehta was also named the 2015 recipient of ASPEN’s Stanley J. Dudrick Research Scholar Award for his past research accomplishments in the area of pediatric clinical nutrition.

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The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) is dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the science and practice of nutrition support therapy and metabolism. Founded in 1976, ASPEN is an interdisciplinary organization whose members are involved in the provision of clinical nutrition therapies, including parenteral and enteral nutrition. With more than 6,500 members from around the world, ASPEN is a community of dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, students and other health professionals from every facet of nutrition support clinical practice, research and education. For more information about ASPEN, please visit www.nutritioncare.org.

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Amber McCracken
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