Program Advisory Council

The Micronutrient Forum’s Program Advisory Council consists of distinguished researchers, policy makers, senior program managers, business leaders, and other leading professionals experienced in the issues of micronutrient nutrition from across academia,  multilateral agencies, national governmental agencies, research institutes, non-governmental organizations and business.

The Program Advisory Council provides guidance to the Board of Directors on scientific, technical, and program implementation issues.  The Council generates findings and makes recommendations to the President and the Forum’s staff members to support decision-making about scientific, technical, and program-related priorities of the Micronutrient Forum.

Kenneth Brown, M.D. – Chair of Advisory Council

Emeritus Distinguished Professor, Department of Nutrition and Institute for Global Nutrition, University of California, Davis

Dr. Kenneth Brown is an Emeritus Distinguished Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Institute for Global Nutrition at the University of California, Davis. He completed medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania and trained in Pediatrics at the Boston Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Brown has conducted research and published more than 350 articles on the causes, complications, treatment, and prevention of childhood undernutrition in low-income countries, focusing on infant and young child feeding practices, relationships between infection and nutrition, and control of specific micronutrient deficiencies, including zinc, iron and vitamin A.  He has served as Founding Director of the research unit in International and Community Nutrition at UC Davis; Founding Chair of the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group; committee member of multiple global health organizations and technical expert groups; and editorial board member of several leading nutrition journals. He is a past-President of the Society for International Nutrition Research, Fellow of the American Society of Nutrition and the International Union of Nutrition Sciences, and a recipient of the Kellogg Award for International Nutrition Research, the McCollum Award, the Rainer Gross Award, the Suskind Award for Pediatric Nutrition and the Prince Mahidol Award for nutrition and public health.

Saskia Osendarp, Ph.D. – Co-Chair of Advisory Council

Executive Director, Micronutrient Forum

Dr. Saskia Osendarp is a globally recognized nutrition researcher with over 25 years of experience in nutrition. She brings expertise in child development, micronutrients, and fortification. She has a proven track record in both the public and private sectors of successful international research collaborations, program design, impact evaluations, innovation project launches. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Micronutrient Forum, leading projects on the micronutrient data gap, women’s nutrition, and co-convened the Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium analyzing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on nutrition.

A native of the Netherlands, Dr. Osendarp holds an MSc and Ph.D. in Nutrition from Wageningen University & Research, where she is also an Associate Professor of Micronutrients and International Health. She has been co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. Dr. Osendarp has a strong passion for improving the future of many through improved, evidence-based nutrition solutions and driving global change for nutrition.

Kevin Cashman, Ph.D., R.P.H.Nutr.

Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Ireland

Professor Kevin Cashman, B.Sc., Ph.D, D.Sc., is the Endowed Chair of Food and Health at University College Cork (UCC), a joint position between the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Medicine at UCC.  He is also a joint director of the Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research at UCC.  Professor Cashman’s current research interests focus on a number of key public health areas in relation to vitamin D and vitamin K as well as diet and bone health.  He has around 200 publications; he was awarded a DSc for published work in 2020. Professor Cashman is currently a member of the FAO-WHO expert group on nutrient requirements for infants and young children aged 0-36 months and the Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).  He chairs the Public Health Nutrition sub-committee of the FSAI.  He has previously served as a member of expert committees and working groups, such as the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition working group on vitamin D.

Namukolo Covic, Ph.D.

Director General’s Representative to Ethiopia for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Biography forthcoming

Nemat Hajeebhoy

Chief of Nutrition, UNICEF Nigeria

Nemat Hajeebhoy is an experienced nutrition leader with over 26 years of experience working with non-profits, foundations and the United Nations across Asia (Southeast and South), Africa (East and West) and North America. She has had numerous successes enhancing the financial sustainability of projects, expanding portfolios, and developing high-quality partnerships and programs to scale preventive and rehabilitative nutrition interventions in both development and humanitarian contexts.  Nemat shaped and executed the first-ever social franchise model to deliver infant and young child nutrition services at scale and helped establish the first human milk bank in Vietnam.  Nemat has published extensively on nutrition, with more than 35 publications in top-tier journals. Nemat holds postgraduate degrees from the John’s Hopkins School of Public Health, USA and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India.

Nancy Krebs, M.D.

Professor of Pediatrics, Head of the Section of Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Prof. Nancy Krebs is a Professor of Pediatrics and Head of the Section of Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  Dr. Krebs’ research has focused on the impact of nutrition and feeding on infant and young child growth in both U.S. and international settings.  She has conducted extensive research to characterize homeostasis and requirements for zinc and other micronutrients in austere settings for vulnerable populations consuming supplements, micronutrient powders, and biofortified foods.  Current research includes effects of complementary food choices on infant growth and body composition, on developing enteric microbiome and innate immunity; and the impact of a pre-conception maternal nutrition intervention on fetal and infant growth in low resource settings in 4 countries.  Through the NICHD supported Global Network, Dr. Krebs also participates in multi-country studies testing the impact of obstetric and peri-partum interventions on maternal and infant outcomes. 

Helene McNulty, Ph.D.

Director of the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Ulster University, Northern Ireland

Dr. Helene McNulty is Director of nutrition research (NICHE) and Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics at Ulster University, Northern Ireland. She is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences. Helene’s research programme is aimed at providing greater understanding of nutrition-related health through the lifecycle and contributing to food and health policy internationally. She has particular expertise in folate and related B vitamins and has published extensively in this field, building impacts from early to late life. In her academic role, Dr. McNulty is actively involved in teaching at undergraduate and masters levels in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics, and to date has supervised over 30 PhD students to successful completion.

Sant-Rayn Pasricha, M.B.B.S., MPH, Ph.D., F.R.A.C.P., F.R.C.P.A.

Division Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and consultant physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital

Dr. Sant-Rayn Pasricha is a haematologist, epidemiologist and molecular biologist who leads a research program addressing anaemia control in the global health context. He is a Division Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and consultant physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He presently leads a series of field trials exploring solutions for anaemia control in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as a basic science research program seeing to make fundamental discoveries around biology. He also leads the WHO Collaborating Centre for Anaemia Detection and Control. He has published as first/ senior author in journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Lancet Global Health, BMJ, Science Translational Medicine, and Blood.

Matin Qaim, Ph.D.

Director at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn

Dr. Matin Qaim is Director at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn. Before joining ZEF in 2021, he was Professor at the University of Göttingen (2007-2021) and the University of Hohenheim (2004-2007), and research fellow at the University of California at Berkeley (2001-2003). He holds a PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Bonn. Qaim’s research focuses on sustainable food systems, food security, and agricultural development. He is member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), Fellow of the American Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and President-Elect of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE).

Marie T. Ruel, Ph.D.

Director, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division at the International Food Policy research institute (IFPRI), USA

Dr. Marie Ruel is Director of the Poverty Health and Nutrition Division at IFPRI. She has worked for more than 35 years on policies and programs to alleviate poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. At IFPRI, she built a team and led a large research portfolio on the evaluation and strengthening of a range of multi-sectoral, nutrition-sensitive programs and policies; and promoted uptake of the evidence generated for policymaking. Marie served on various international expert committees, including the Micronutrient Forum (2012-18), the International Zinc in Nutrition Consultative Group, and the World Health Organization STAGE (Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts) on Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition. Marie received the American Society for Nutrition Kellogg Prize for lifetime achievement in nutrition in 2019.

Meera Shekar, Ph.D.

Global Lead for nutrition with the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice

Dr. Meera Shekar is Global Lead for nutrition with the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice.  In this capacity she provides leadership, support and policy advice on the Bank’s nutrition portfolio across the spectrum of undernutrition and obesity, managing key partnerships such as the Power of Nutrition,  and firmly positioning nutrition within the Global Financing Facility for RMNACHN and the Bank’s new initiative on Human Capital. Over the last several years, she has led the repositioning of the nutrition agenda that led to the global Scaling-up Nutrition (SUN) movement, and was a founding member of the Catalytic Financing Facility for Nutrition that evolved in to “The Power of Nutrition”. Dr. Shekar serves as the chair for the SUN executive committee and has been one of the principals for the emerging aid-architecture for the SUN, and the G8 and G20 agenda-setting process for food security and nutrition over the last decade.  She led the development of the first ever global Investment Framework for Nutrition and co-leads (with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) the Nutrition Financing working group for the “Nutrition for Growth” (N4G) summit to be hosted by Japan in 2021.

Dr. Shekar has lived and worked across the globe and has extensive policy and operational experience across the globe. She has a PhD in international nutrition, epidemiology and population studies from Cornell University and has consulted extensively. Among other publications, she is the author of several publications including Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development, 2006;  Scaling-up Nutrition –What will it cost? World Bank 2009; And most recently, An Investment Framework for Nutrition: Reaching the global Targets for Stunting, Anemia, Breastfeeding and Wasting, World Bank, 2017; and Obesity: Health and Economic Consequences of an Impending Global Challenge, World Bank, 2020. Meera has served as an Adjunct professor at Tufts University, USA, and has been a guest speaker at several G8 preparatory events including the G8 parliamentarians conference in Canada, invited speaker at Cornell University, GW University, Harvard School of Public Health, University of Toronto, BRAC University Bangladesh, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), National Institutes of Health, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, National Academies of Sciences (NAS) USA. Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Obesity co-led by the University of Auckland & GW University; co-author of the Lancet Undernutrition Series 2008; Member of the Expert Advisory Group for UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report; External advisory board at DNS (2012-18), Cornell University. She is on the Advisory panel for the Essential Living Standards index, Legatum Institute, UK;  the Cost Of Obesity Advisory Group (CoOAG) and the advisory group for the Exemplars in Global Health at Gates Ventures (Bill Gates’s private office) and BMGF strategy refresh, among several others.

Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Ph.D.

Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish, a One CGIAR entity

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted is the Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish, a One CGIAR entity. She was awarded the 2021 World Food Prize for her ground-breaking research, critical insights, and landmark innovations in developing holistic, nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquatic food systems, including aquaculture and capture fisheries. She was awarded the 2021 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award for research innovation. She played a key role in the development of the WorldFish 2030 research and innovation strategy: Aquatic Foods for Healthy People and Planet. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and Vice Chair of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021: Action Track 4 – Advance Equitable Livelihoods, and also a Food Systems Champion. She plays a pivotal role in promoting aquatic food systems for nourishing nations and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Shakuntala holds a PhD from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (presently: Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen), Denmark. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Larry Umunna

Regional Director West Africa, TechnoServe

Larry Umunna is the Regional Director West Africa in 2019. He had previously served as the first Regional Representative for Africa and Country Director Nigeria for Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Larry has spent over two decades promoting the concepts of food fortification and Infant & Young Child Nutrition to the Food Industry, Governments and other stakeholders. He had previously worked for Roche Vitamins Limited (now DSM) in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is an alumnus of the University of Benin, the University of Ibadan, Lagos Business School (Nigeria) and the Wits Business School, South Africa.

Lindsay Allen, Ph.D.

Center Director, USDA, ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center University of California, Davis

Dr. Lindsay Allen is Center Director, USDA, ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA. She studies prevalence, causes and consequences of micronutrient deficiencies using randomized, controlled human trials testing micronutrient supplements, food fortification, and food-based approaches to improve nutritional status, pregnancy outcome and child development, described in her 300 publications. She increased awareness of the globally high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency, its adverse consequences and response to interventions. Her current focus is on methods for measuring micronutrients in human milk, and effective interventions for increasing low milk micronutrient concentrations. Dr. Allen served on committees of the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, and national, bilateral and international organizations including WHO, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, PAHO and FAO. She was principal author of WHO/FAO’s “Guidelines on Food Fortification with Micronutrients”. She served as President of the Society for International Nutrition Research and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). Her awards include the: Kellogg International Nutrition Prize, McCollum International Lectureship, Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition, Outstanding Investigator of the Year Award from the Vitamins and Minerals Research Interest Section of ASN, and Career Achievement in Evidence Translation Award from the Mathile Institute. She is past Vice President and a Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, and is Vice-President Elect and a Fellow of ASN.

Maria Anderson, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, University Children’s Hospital Zurich and Lecturer, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich).

Biography forthcoming

Jennifer Coates, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Affiliated Faculty member Tufts Institute for the Environment.

Biography forthcoming

Rafael Flores-Ayala, Dr.P.H.

Chief of the Nutrition Branch in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Dr. Rafael Flores-Ayala is the Chief of the Nutrition Branch in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016-present). He was Team Lead of the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control (IMMPaCt) Program from 2008-2016. Dr. Flores-Ayala was a Research Associate Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University from 2001-2008, and he is currently an Adjunct Professor. Dr. Flores-Ayala served in several distinguished positions at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama and the International Food Policy Research Institute from 1976-2001. His research has covered multiple micronutrient topics, including iron, iodine, zinc and vitamin A status, supplementation, grain fortification, and maternal and child health issues. Dr. Flores-Ayala has provided technical assistance on program monitoring and evaluation, nutrition surveys and surveillance, policy planning, and capacity building in over 30 countries.

Maria Elena Jefferds, Ph.D.

Lead Epidemiologist and Team Lead, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dr. Maria Elena Jefferds, is a Lead Epidemiologist and Team Lead of the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Program (IMMPaCt) in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Dr. Jefferds has expertise in behavioral science; population-based surveys and assessments; surveillance; and the design, monitoring and evaluation of micronutrient and nutrition programs.  She and the IMMPaCt team are actively engaged with partners on effectiveness studies, national micronutrient surveys, and strengthening nutrition surveillance systems in multiple countries in Africa, Asia and Central America.  Dr. Jefferds is a member of multiple global technical advisory groups.  She served as the Chair of the Program Committee for the 4th Micronutrient Forum Global Conference in Cancun, and the 5th Micronutrient Forum Global Conference in Bangkok.

Mduduzi Mbuya, Ph.D.

Senior Manager, Knowledge Leadership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

Dr. Mduduzi Mbuya is a Senior Manager, Knowledge Leadership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).   In this role, he leads GAIN’s research and evaluation efforts in the areas of Large Scale Food Fortification and Biofortification.  Working with program, country office and knowledge leadership teams he supports the development of strategic research and learning agendas in these programming areas.  Dr. Mbuya is a Zimbabwean national, who has worked for two decades on nutrition sensitive programs and policy in LMIC. He holds a PhD in International Nutrition from Cornell and is currently a Courtesy Assistant Professor at Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences and Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins’ School of Public Health.

Sophie Moore, Ph.D.

Leader in Global Women & Children’s Health, Department of Women and Children’s Health, King’s College London

Dr. Sophie Moore’s interest in Nutrition and Global Health research was initially driven by an undergraduate placement year spent with VSO in Tanzania, working with the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre. Following a PhD with the MRC’s Dunn Nutrition Unit in Cambridge and The Gambia, she then joined the MRC International Nutrition Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and, between 2006-12, she was Head of Station at the Keneba field station, MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG). Following a further short spell at LSHTM, she joined MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, as Group Leader in Maternal and Child Nutrition, moving to the Department of Women and Children’s Health at KCL in September 2016.  

Dr. Moore’s current research focuses on mechanisms through which maternal, infant and childhood nutrition influence infant development and life-course health. Much of her current research remains based at in The Gambia, and she has also collaborated on projects in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Dr. Moore is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at MRCG and an Honorary Associate Professor at LSHTM. She has recently been awarded a Welcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship focused on micronutrient interventions to improve infant neurocognitive development and growth in early infancy.

Christine M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Chief of the Nutritional Biomarkers Branch, CDC, USA

Dr. Christine Pfeiffer is the Chief of the Nutritional Biomarkers Branch at CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. With 25 years of nutritional biochemistry research experience in public health, her laboratory is developing and applying state-of-the-art methods for nutritional biomarkers to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and international studies. She developed a framework of laboratory harmonization for low-and-middle-income countries that relies on regional resource laboratories to improve the quality of nutritional biomarker data for micronutrient surveys. She is a leading expert on folate and B vitamins, and logistical issues regarding biomonitoring. She has authored over 160 peer-reviewed publications, led the production of two major agency reports on nutritional biomarkers in NHANES, and served on national and international committees.

Daniel J. Raiten, Ph.D.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Dr. Daniel J. Raiten has a BA in history and political science, BS/MS in animal science/agriculture and a PhD in Human Nutrition from Penn State University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center.  Dr. Raiten has spent the majority of his career at the interface between research and translation to support evidence informed practice, programs and policies in food safety and nutrition. He has served as the Program    Director for Nutrition at NICHD/NIH since 2009 where he is responsible for the portfolio of grants and related activities to support and advance the MCH nutrition agenda in the US and globally. He is a 5-time recipient of the NIH Director’s Award and the DHHS Secretary’s Award. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition in 2020.

Jose M. Saavedra, M.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Jose (Pepe) Saavedra is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a pediatric gastroenterologist, investigator, and medical and science business executive. Dr. Saavedra created and developed the Johns Hopkins Children’s Nutrition Center which he directed for ten years and carried out ground-breaking research in the area of enteral microbiota and diarrheal disease. Until recently he also held the position of Chief Medical Officer of Nestlé Nutrition, in Vevey, Switzerland. He has an extensive record of publications in the areas of clinical nutrition, intestinal dysfunction, microbiota, and disease preventive nutritional strategies with a focus on early life nutrition and long-term health.  

Dominique Van Der Straeten, Ph.D.

Research Director, Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University

Dr. Dominique Van Der Straeten is a senior full professor at Ghent University, and research director of the Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology (

With a fellowship of the British Council, she conducted pre-doctoral research at the University of Reading (UK). She was awarded a PhD fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) to start her doctoral thesis at Harvard University (Boston, MA, USA) continued at Ghent University. For her PhD, Dominique was awarded the Soenen Prize for Plant Breeding and nominated Laureate of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts of Belgium. She conducted a brief post-doctoral stay at the University of Utrecht (NL) and was a pioneer on remote detection of plant disease and nutrient stress using multispectral imaging. Last but not least, while being a fundamental scientist at heart, she initiated research on biofortification of crop plants, driven by the aspiration to contribute more directly to society. Dominique was affiliated to the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) for 16 years (from Research Assistant to Research Director). She was a visiting professor in Ecuador, Thailand, and Brazil. She co-authored over 300 papers. Thus far, 26 students have completed their PhD under her guidance. As a course responsible, she teaches 5 courses related to plant physiology and plant molecular biology, to Bachelor and Masters students in Biochemistry/Biotechnology and in Biology.  

She is an elected member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. 

Keith P. West, Jr., Dr.P.H., R.D.

Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University

Dr. Keith P. West, Jr. is the George Graham Professor of Infant and Child Nutrition in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  He has worked in Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Malawi, Zambia and Micronesia. As a US Army dietitian, he served on Okinawa with the Surgeon General in Wash DC.  He has led trials assessing effects of vitamin A on infant, child and maternal mortality and antenatal micronutrient use on materno-infant health and survival in Southern Asia.  He has coauthored over 270 scientific papers.  He is a 2007 recipient of the ASN International Nutrition Research Award, a Class of 2020 Fellow and  currently serves as Director At-Large for Global Nutrition within the ASN.

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