Discover the research of Van Thi Thuy Duong, winner of the 4th Young Scientist Award at the International Congress of Nutrition held in Tokyo in December 2022. The award was given by Global Nutrition Leadership Platform (GNLP), composed of alumni from nutrition leadership programs from across the world, and Sight and Life. Duong’s work explores the crucial links between agriculture, food systems, diet quality and nutrition, and her vision for nutrition leadership.
As part of our commitment to nurturing the next generation of nutrition leaders, Sight and Life is proud to support Duong and other young researchers as they tackle the urgent problem of malnutrition in LMICs. Read on to learn more about Duong’s award-winning work in her own words.
Being able to experience high-quality education has shown me the role of education in the development of every field, and nutrition is no exception.
Van Thi Thuy Duong
My primary research area focuses on the connections between diet quality, nutrition, and health outcomes on one side, and has recently branched out into investigating the relationships between agriculture, food systems and nutrition on the other. I strongly believe that agriculture and food systems innovation is the key answer for the global call: “How will we feed the earth’s growing population in a healthy and sustainable way?”.
Recently, I have been awarded a post-doctoral IMMANA Fellowship to continue researching the linkages between food access and nutrition in Vietnam, and globally. It is my motivation to fill in data gaps on food access and diet quality at the national and global level, especially in LMICs. Though still lacking, this type of research plays a crucial role in filling in the knowledge gap to understand the causes of malnutrition and offers insights needed for more effective research and interventions in food systems. I have also pioneered in linking my research outcomes with innovative applications and practical uses. Some examples include: the application of the Vietnamese Healthy Eating Index as the first diet quality indicator in Vietnam; the routine application of the cost and affordability of such indicators to the existing food price data (this is frequently collected for food security and nutrition measurement in Vietnam); and the evidence for the development of the Vietnamese food-based dietary guidelines.
As a girl born in one of the poorest areas of Vietnam with a lack of educational resources, being able to experience high-quality education has shown me the role of education in the development of every field, and nutrition is no exception. Thus, I have strongly engaged with the nutrition education programmes at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City (UMP), including the development and teaching of new programmes such as Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Master of Nutrition and Health, and Medical Doctor specialized in Clinical Nutrition. I adapted new methods that I learnt from other countries, engaging in research and practical activities, and mentoring students closely. I aim to inspire the young nutrition generation in the country, those that are willing to work hard to accomplish their vision and pursue their dream. Step by step, I hope, they will not only become this country’s nutrition leaders, but they will also raise their sights and lead regionally and universally.
Additionally, in the past ten years, I have shown my leadership ability in building and strengthening the relationships between the UMP and the leading research institutes in the country (i.e., National Institute of Nutrition, General Statistics Office, Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences), local universities (i.e., Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi University of Public Health), international universities (Wageningen University and Research, Queensland University of Technology, University of Sydney), international institutes (i.e., Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute, National Institute of Nutrition of Japan, Philippines, and Indonesia), the biggest wellness business (FLG Fitness & Lifestyle Group) and the food industry in Vietnam. This effort has originated from my clear vision of emerging closer connections between education, research, service, policy-making, and practical activities, since the nutrition challenges facing us are systematic, and we cannot solve them on our own.
It often happens that young scientists, especially those from LMICs like us, do not clearly show our role in nutrition leadership because we are shy to raise our voice. Support, such as the Young Scientist Award, will change this for people like me. I am honoured to receive this award and motivated to be more active as a nutrition leader and keep dedicating my time to the future of nutrition.
Van Thi Thuy Duong