Margaret Allman

Prof. Margaret Allman-Farinelli


Margaret Allman-Farinelli is Professor of Dietetics at the University of Sydney working in the Charles Perkins Centre and has been a member of Nutrition Society for 35 years. She is actively involved in public health nutrition research but has also published in nutrition science and clinical nutrition. For the past decade she has conducted qualitative and quantitative research concerning the dietary habits of younger adults. Her interest was aroused when she realised younger adults were gaining weight at the most rapid rate which begged investigation of their dietary habits and lifestyles. Margaret also recognised that young adults were largely ignored in nutrition promotion practice and is working to achieve policy change to address this.


Factors influencing dietary habits during emerging adulthood 

As adolescents emerge into adulthood they undergo physical, emotional, social and intellectual changes that impact on their dietary intakes. Emerging adulthood is generally regarded as 18 to 25 years-old. During this phase, young adults develop further independence and sense of identity as they leave school, begin tertiary education or a career, and may move out of the parental home. Among adults the youngest have the poorest quality diets. Emerging adults have energy-dense diets that are characterised by low fruit and vegetable intakes and higher intakes of discretionary foods and beverages rich in sodium and added sugars. Thus, it is not surprising to find it is these young males who gain the most BMI units each year and young females gain most BMI units between 18 and 29 years (0.2 and 0.15 kg/M2). Young adults in the lower half versus those in the higher half of the population for socioeconomic advantage have diets of a higher energy-density. Lower educational attainment is generally indicative of poorer quality diet. Emerging adults may be more susceptible to the obesogenic food environment and as they eat more food prepared outside the home and are price-sensitive, they are driven to cheap fast foods.

Damien Belobrajdic Headshot

Dr Damien Belobrajdic


Damien Belobrajdic is a Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO Health & Biosecurity, where he leads multidisciplinary research projects investigating the physiological, biochemical and molecular processes that are important to understanding how food and food components modulate gut and metabolic health. He completed a PhD in Nutritional Physiology through the University of Adelaide in 2004. His research efforts in the last decade have focused on determining the nutritional and health benefits of cereals and grain components, and in providing a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of benefit to support the development of improved cereal-based foods that deliver substantiated health benefits to consumers. 


Feeding our microbes for gut health and beyond

There is growing recognition of the role of diet and other environmental factors in modulating the composition and metabolic activity of the human gut microbiota and subsequent impact on the development of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. In particular, fibre is a key dietary constituent that promotes gut health, as microbes primarily located in the large bowel can ferment carbohydrates and produce short chain fatty acids which contribute to the integrity and proper functioning of the large bowel, as well as regulate various metabolic processes systemically. However, these affects are largely dependent on the type of dietary fibre consumed. Although we continue to better understand how specific dietary fibres can influence gut and metabolic health, many populations in developed countries struggle to achieve dietary fibre intakes at recommended levels for proper functioning of the gut. To address this, our research has focused on developing new varieties of staple wholegrain cereals such as wheat, barley and rice that contain enhanced levels of specific dietary fibres to help populations increase their fibre intake to levels that promote gut and metabolic health. 

Wayne Bryden

Prof. Wayne Bryden


Professor Bryden is the Foundation Chair in Animal Science at the University of Queensland. He was Head of the School of Animal Studies at the same University from 2002 to 2007 and prior to that appointment was Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. His research group is currently pursuing various aspects of nutritional physiology, toxicology and immunity. He was awarded the Centenary Medal for his contributions to science and education, and is a past Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins. Professor Bryden is a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Food Safety, European Commission Expert Assessor for Sustainable Food Security and Joint FAO/WHO Expert Group on Hazards Associated with Animal Feed. Wayne is a former President of NSA and is a Fellow of the Society. He is currently President of the Australasian Equine Science Society and Editor-in-Chief of Animal Production Science.


The future and food security

The massive increase in the human population is precipitating a cascade of environmental, economic, political and cultural changes that have far-reaching implications for the provision of an adequate global food supply. In the future, increased agricultural productivity must come from a reduced land area and resource base. Another “Green Revolution” is required but today’s revolution must be different. It is no longer possible or responsible to use unlimited water and chemical inputs to increase production.

To achieve new food producing systems that are science-based with low resource input, agricultural R&D must increase substantially. Education will be equally important, as consumer attitudes will determine the eventual acceptance of new technologies and adoption of different patterns of food consumption. We will need to reinvent our diets to meet our nutritional requirements for optimal health and in so doing consume fewer calories and less meat. Moreover, to maintain a viable food supply, farmers must be paid realistic prices and waste reduced throughout the food supply chain.

Part of the solution to feeding the planet is to have nutrition, public health, agriculture, and the food industry working together to solve interconnected problems. Future well-being depends on a sustainable food system that continues to deliver optimal health with minimal impact on the environment. Visionary public policy, both national and international, must be a major instrument if our food systems are to evolve in a sustainable manner.


Prof. Colin Butler


Adjunct Professor Colin Butler has qualifications in medicine, epidemiology and public health. He has a long interest in the environment, social justice and public health and in 1989 co-founded an NGO (BODHI) that works, with partners, mainly in India, seeking to improve health and opportunity for minorities experiencing discrimination. He has contributed to five international scientific assessments, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow. He is sole editor of the book “Climate Change and Global Health” and founding co-chair of the network Health-Earth.


Climate change, limits, and the global food supply– what is the role of nutrition science?

Elites, from Henry Kissinger in 1974 to the framers of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, have made extravagant, unrealized promises to greatly reduce hunger. Today, over 800 million people are estimated to experience macronutrient undernourishment, five famines are acknowledged and billions more are micronutrient-deficient. Hundreds of other millions are obese. Global nutritional inequality mirrors many other forms of inequality. Neoliberal and other ideologies contribute; many people with power benefit from inequality and collectively act to reduce understanding of its deep causes and remedies. In parallel, little progress has been made in reducing the rate of anthropogenic climate change. Climate change and other environmental limits are already worsening nutrition, perhaps for billions. Climate change will further lower micronutrient concentrations in food, worsen heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods, and inundate fertile coastal land. Humanity’s trajectory risks catastrophe; perhaps even a “fortress world”, from which Australians will not be immune. Nutrition science cannot change global macro-politics but its practitioners can better integrate, appreciate and champion the importance of environmental factors. For example, reduced ingestion of animal products and highly processed foods will mitigate climate change, consume less fossil fuel and improve human health. Such strategies provoke opposition; however, the current trajectory is untenable.


Prof. David Cameron-Smith


Professor David Cameron-Smith has been the Chair in Nutrition at the University of Auckland, since 2011. In collaboration with AgResearch, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute and the Riddet Institute, based at Massey University, he has been involved in a wide range of clinical studies examining the complex digestive and metabolic responses to nutrients. Focusing on dietary proteins, this work has included numerous studies examining protein requirements for ageing, including analysis of digestion, microbiome response, protein synthesis and the complex molecular regulation of skeletal muscle. These studies point at the critical role dietary protein exerts of skeletal muscle protein turnover in ageing.  


Dietary strategies for healthy ageing

Increasing life expectancy and declining birth rates after the baby boomer generation is rapidly skewing population demographics, such that the proportion of people over the age of 65 years is dramatically increasing. Ageing brings with it many complex health challenges, with nutrition exerting a profound impact on the risk and severity of many forms of ill-health and disease. Despite significant declines in the functioning of all tissues and organs it remains a widely held myth that somehow digestion remains largely unaffected. This persists despite the well-established increased prevalence of overt gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and micronutrient deficiencies, particularly for those micronutrients that require complex coordinated GI function. Beyond the basic micronutrients, even less is known of the downstream impacts this exerts on the metabolic pathway that are dependent upon micronutrients as substrates or co-factors. Yet another added complexity is the significant changes in total nutrient intake, including altered meal composition and eating patterns, underpinned in part by changing hedonic, appetite and satiety cues. Therefore, the specific nutritional needs of an ageing population remain largely unknown, with insufficient fundamental knowledge of the changes in nutritional needs that occur along the continuum of ageing.  

Jeremy Cottrell Head Shot

Dr Jeremy Cottrell


Dr. Jeremy Cottrell’s current research interests include investigations into the effects of environmental heat stress on intensively farmed pigs, chickens and dairy cows. Due to their confined nature, the increasing incidence of heat waves present a challenge to intensive farming systems. However, intensive farming systems also offer opportunities to intervene using nutritional supplements. In particular these experiments focus on the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, which are highly susceptible to heat stress, manifesting in poorer health status and production outcomes. Dr. Cottrell has over 10 years research experience in animal and human physiology, in particular gastrointestinal and skeletal muscle physiology.


Nutritional strategies to ameliorate heat stress in livestock

Heat stress is a common problem during seasonal heat waves, where growth and reproductive performance is compromised. When future drivers such as the action of climate change and increased participation in tropical agriculture are factored in the issue of producing livestock under hotter climates is an issue that is going to continue to increase in prominence. The use of nutrition as a management strategy against heat stress is not a new concept. However advances in the understanding of the biology of heat stress in livestock has provided new opportunities for the development of amelioration strategies. Many livestock species lack an active sweat response to heat, and instead rely on other means such as redistributing blood from the visceral organs to the skin and increased panting. In this heat stressed state deprivation of blood flow to the intestinal tract can compromise barrier function, resulting in bacterial translocation, inflammatory responses and oxidative stress. Furthermore excessive panting can trigger alterations in acid-base balance. Recently supplementation of compounds such as antioxidants, betaine, chromium and phytochemicals have been proved effective or being tested in mitigating some certain impacts of heat stress in pigs and promise to be an important addition to existing management strategies.

Anne Kelso

Prof. Anne Kelso


Professor Anne Kelso AO is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Before joining NHMRC in April 2015, Professor Kelso spent many years as a biomedical researcher in immunology alongside other roles, most recently as Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne. She is a member of several Government and international committees, including the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board which advises the Minister for Health on the strategy and priorities for the Medical Research Future Fund.


The future of health research funding in Australia

Australian health and medical research has entered a new era of opportunity with the introduction of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the Biomedical Translation Fund, in addition to National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding. While NHMRC remains the biggest player, rising disbursements from the MRFF will substantially increase the total budget available for publicly funded health and medical research. NHMRC and the MRFF have different funding models, the first mainly supporting investigator-initiated research underpinned by peer review across all health topics, and the second focused on priority-driven research delivered through a mix of competitive and targeted mechanisms. At the same time, NHMRC is undertaking a major reform of its grant program to address issues that have weighed on the Australian health and medical research sector in recent years. This changing landscape of research funding offers new opportunities for researchers in human nutrition and related fields that underpin individual and community health and well-being.

Mark Lawrence

Prof. Mark Lawrence


Mark is Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. He has 34 years’ experience working as a practitioner and academic in nutrition policy at local, state, national and international levels. Mark leads an ARC-funded project investigating healthy and sustainable food systems. He is Chair of the Advisory Board for the Cochrane Nutrition Field; Member of the IUNS Task Force on Sustainable Diets; External advisor to WHO; Board member at FSANZ; Member of the NHMRC’s Synthesis and Translation of Research Evidence committee; and a former member of the NHMRC’s Dietary Guidelines Working Committee.


The science and politics of nutrition evidence generation, synthesis and translation

Dietary risk factors are leading contributors to the Australian burden of disease. Nutrition science provides theories, principles, procedures and research methods for generating, synthesising and translating evidence to inform nutrition guidelines and policy activities to tackle these dietary risk factors. However, nutrition evidence does not emerge by, or speak for, itself. Its generation, synthesis and translation are influenced by human involvement. Inevitably, politics shapes: which research questions are (not) asked and funded and by whom; how procedures for rating the certainty of the resulting body of nutrition evidence are constructed and applied; and whose worldviews then prevail in formulating nutrition guidelines and policy activities from among the variety of nutrient –, food –, diet – and food system – oriented options available. Novel approaches are being proposed to help illuminate and manage nutrition science and political interactions. Approaches for tackling bias in evidence generation are gaining traction. An innovative approach drawing on theory and a logic model to strategically inform evidence synthesis and translation for nutrition guidance and policy activities will be described. These approaches aim to strengthen evidence use decision-making processes for more effective and safe nutrition guidelines and policy activities.

Laura McCabe

Prof. Laura McCabe


Laura R. McCabe is a Professor in the Departments of Physiology and Radiology and Director of the Molecular Metabolism and Disease Program at MSU. McCabe received her B.A. and Ph.D. from University of Chicago.  Her graduate training in gastrointestinal physiology examined diabetes-induced changes in intestinal epithelial cell gene expression and function.  Her post-doctoral training at U Mass Medical Center, focus on molecular mechanisms regulating osteoblast differentiation.  Her research focuses on the gut-bone signaling axis as a mediator of bone loss as well as a therapeutic target.


The gut microbiome and bone health

It is clear that intestinal microbial dysbiosis, barrier breaks and inflammation can promote bone loss. In fact, many conditions of bone loss also have altered gut function (such as menopause, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes). The gut-bone signaling axis not only represents a signal for bone loss but can also serve as a novel therapeutic target for preventing osteoporosis.  We have identified links between gut and bone health and can manipulate the intestinal environment in a variety of ways, for example with antibiotics to deplete the microbiome and with probiotics to enhance the microbiome.  The latter leads to a clear benefit to both the intestine and bone.  Our studies have focused on the probiotic lactobacilli reuteri, which has anti-TNF properties.  Our data indicate that this probiotic can influence bone indirectly and directly through pathways unique to this bacteria.  Effects of the probiotic in different disease models, an overarching model and future directions will be discussed.


Prof. Susan Prescott


Prof. Susan L. Prescott MD, PhD, is an internationally acclaimed pediatrician and immunologist. For more than 20 years she has been publishing paradigm-shifting research, casting light on the ways in which all life experiences - including contact with microbes - resonate through the immune system, setting the stage for subsequent health or disease. Her current work focuses on the interconnections between human health and planetary health - promoting holistic value systems for both ecological and social justice. She is the founding President of the DOHaD Society of ANZ, and previously served as a Director of the World Allergy Organization. She is Director of the ORIGINS project, which examines how the environment influences all aspects of physical and mental health throughout life. Susan is the author of more than 300 scientific papers and several books including The Allergy EpidemicThe Calling, Origins and award winning book The Secret Life of Your Microbiome.


The ecology of nutrition and dysbiosis – Drawing a direct line between personal and planetary health  

Nutrition is arguably the most significant determinant of the development and future health of all organ systems – and by extension, a major factor in each individual reaching their potential through resiliency, quality of life, and ultimately, life expectancy. The microbiome revolution has shown us that everything is interconnected – the ecology of our food, our personal biomes, our health, our societies, and the health and biodiversity of the wider environment – drawing a direct line between personal and planetary health. At the personal scale, dietary patterns are key in determining the profile and function of the gut microbiome – now known to have a fundamental influence on the immune and metabolic functions that determine health across life. Adverse western dietary changes are amongst the most significant factors in the rapidly mounting global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), exacerbating inflammation through multiple pathways, including ‘dysbiotic’ changes in gut microbiomes. At the planetary scale, dietary patterns and food choices are adding to and perpetuating macroscale dysbiosis through significant impacts on the environment, with clear evidence of differential effects on land use, CO2 production, waste, macroscale biodiversity loss, water use, and particulate pollution. At a time of increasing environmental crisis on all scales there is an imperative for integrated ecological solutions which provide sustainable dietary guidance for optimal human nutrition in tandem with issues of long-term food security, environmental, social, and economic impacts of human wellbeing into the future. We have the resources and technologies to do this, we must now apply the vision and shared purpose required to achieve this. Our future depends on it.


Prof. Leanne Redman


Dr. Leanne M. Redman, PhD, FTOS is a Professor in the Clinical Sciences division at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, within Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Southern Cross University in 1999, a PhD in Physiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology from the University of Adelaide in 2004, and a Master of Clinical Science from Tulane University, LA in 2011. Redman moved to the U.S. for postdoctoral training in female reproductive endocrinology and then by way of a NHMRC Overseas Postdoctoral Training Fellowship moved to Pennington Biomedical to complete an Australian overseas postdoctoral training fellowship in obesity and energy metabolism. At Pennington, Redman directs the Reproductive Endocrinology and Women’s Health laboratory. Her lab is leading presently pioneering research in pregnant women, and is currently performing classic studies of developmental programming in mother-infant dyads to understand the maternal influences on offspring energy metabolism, eating behavior and weight gain. She is an expert in human metabolic phenotyping and well-known in the fields of obesity, lifestyle intervention and energy metabolism with more than 140 research articles, reviews and book chapters around energy metabolism insulin sensitivity, obesity, calorie restriction and exercise.


Weight management across the lifecourse

With the increasing prevalence of obesity worldwide, understanding effective approaches for weight management has become critical focus for basic, clinical and translational research. The technology boom of the modern day while thought to be a contributor in the obesogenic environment is also being used to intervene and improve health and health behaviors. Modern technologies such as smart phones and accompanying Bluetooth enabled devices allow for individualized treatment recommendations to be delivered to individuals remotely, increased self-monitoring/tracking of health-related data, broader and more rapid dissemination of health information/recommendations, and increased patient-dietician/physician contact. The use of technology in weight management programs results in improved long-term weight management, and in most cases increased cost effectiveness. We have been at the forefront of developing and deploying weight management programs that rely on a smart phone. The foundation of our approach are mathematical models that predict a weight loss (or gain trajectory) for a given individual and use of empirical data such as body weight and activity data obtained from wireless scales and activity trackers to deliver feedback and tailor intervention intensiveness. Our efficacy trials for weight loss and healthy management of weight gain in pregnant women hold promise for wide-scale dissemination in large scale healthcare systems.

Anu Ruusunen

Dr Anu Ruusunen


Dr Anu Ruusunen works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in several research projects at the Food & Mood Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University. Her primary research focus relates to the associations between diet, nutrient intakes and mental disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. Dr Ruusunen is a nutritionist and a registered dietitian, who has worked as a clinical dietitian with psychiatric patients counselling and supporting dietary improvements. Thus, in her research, she aims to increase the evidence-based knowledge on how to improve physical and mental well-being through dietary strategies.

Dr Anu Ruusunen works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in several research projects at the Food & Mood Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University. Her primary research focus relates to the associations between diet, nutrient intakes and mental disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. Dr Ruusunen is a nutritionist and a registered dietitian, who has worked as a clinical dietitian with psychiatric patients counselling and supporting dietary improvements. Thus, in her research, she aims to increase the evidence-based knowledge on how to improve physical and mental well-being through dietary strategies.


Micronutrients and depression

Depression is the leading source of disability and identification of new targets for prevention and management is imperative. Extensive evidence supports associations between diet quality and depression. However, the role of micronutrients remains unclear.

Low intake of folate and lower blood concentrations of vitamin D especially, associate with increased risk of depression. Deficiencies of micronutrients such as folate and zinc may predispose to depression. This presentation will discuss the evidence base for these micronutrients as well as folic acid, magnesium and multivitamin supplementations. Potential mechanisms (neurotransmitters, inflammation, HPA-axis function, oxidative stress, neuroplasticity, and gut microbiota) will also be discussed.

Preliminary experimental evidence suggests some benefits of micronutrient supplementations both in population and clinical samples. Especially, methyl-folate and vitamin D supplementations may promote clinical improvements. However, evidence based on double-blind randomised controlled trials remains limited.

Micronutrients may have a specific role in the prevention and treatment of depression, but at the population level, the benefits of whole-diet approach exceed the benefits of individual micronutrients. These findings highlight the fact that improving quality of diet is important for mental health and will lead to increased intake of micronutrients. However, micronutrient supplementations may have a role in treatment of specific nutrient deficiencies.


Prof. Ailsa Welch


Ailsa Welch is a professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at the University of East Anglia Medical School. Previously Ailsa led development of dietary methods for the EPIC-Study at the University of Cambridge, compiled food composition databases and researched in Somalia and Nigeria.

Ailsa researches the protective factors in diet for aging, particularly for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health (sarcopenia, skeletal muscle mass and function), osteoporosis and fracture risk.

Ailsa has 193 journal publications and H Index of 66.

Ailsa chairs the Nutrition & Lifestyle Forum of the UK National Osteoporosis Society and the ‘Optimising Nutrition and Hydration in Care Homes’ initiative. She is Public Health Nutrition scientific theme lead for the UK Nutrition Society.


The relationship between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and musculoskeletal health in children, adolescents and adults

The Mediterranean Diet is potentially protective for skeletal muscle and bone health and therefore, for sarcopenia, osteoporosis and risk of fractures. The high cost of these conditions in aging Western populations means prevention is important.

The Mediterranean Diet includes eating more fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts, legumes and fish, lower amounts of meat and dairy foods, and moderate amounts of alcohol. The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are conferred through the macronutrients, and micronutrient vitamins and minerals, contributed by the foods within this pattern. Our previous systematic review investigated the relevance of the Mediterranean Diet to musculoskeletal health in people of all ages (Craig J et al, 2017) and found only two studies relating the incidence of hip fracture to the MD, and one for sarcopenia. A further 15 studies in our evidence map did not meet the criteria of our systematic review.

Although the MD is considered a consistent type of eating pattern, the nutrient and food composition is very variable because of the range of definitions and types of foods consumed in different regions of the world.

My presentation will discuss and relate the Mediterranean Diet to musculoskeletal health and outcomes.


Gary Williamson for NSA Headshot

Prof. Gary Williamson


Head of Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food at Monash University, Melbourne, since October 2018, with > 360 peer-reviewed full scientific papers and highly cited author (Web of Science h-index of 80 and Google Scholar of 103). After Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK, moved to Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, then Chair and Professor at University of Leeds, UK from 2007 until October 2018. Research interests in the effects of dietary phytonutrients on health, both their bioavailability and effects on metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes risk.



Chronic effects of dietary polyphenols on health markers

Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are global problems, but the risks of developing these conditions have the potential to be lowered by diets high in fruits and vegetables. Plant-derived foods contain naturally-occurring components termed polyphenols (flavonoids and phenolic acids), and according to epidemiological and intervention studies, diets rich in polyphenols reduce the risk developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Effects of polyphenols on biomarkers of health are predominantly observed chronically, with regular intake, and include modulation of post-prandial metabolism. Experiments on human cells in vitro have indicated mechanisms of action, complemented by studies on healthy and at risk human volunteers using specific biomarkers. It is now clear that the beneficial effects are on specific cellular targets and are not due to a direct chemical “antioxidant” action. The molecular pathways of absorption and metabolism of the most common dietary polyphenols are well understood, involving action by both endogenous enzymes and by the gut microbiota, and their bioavailability is directly linked to bioefficacy and effect on health biomarkers. The presentation will discuss how dietary polyphenols modulate biomarkers of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk, and how these effects are influenced by bioavailability and the gut microbiota.