Dec 20, 2023

Taking Stock and Planning the Future

U of T front campus aerial
Photo by Johnny Guatto

It has been a productive half-year, with achievements that bode well for our efforts on nutrition education, research and policy in 2024, at the Joannah & Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition.

We recently created five new Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition fellowships, and I am pleased to share that we have now filled those roles, with fellows who bring a great breadth and depth of expertise, experience and passion to the Centre:

  • Meta van den Heuvel, Lawson Distinguished Fellow in Child Growth, Development and Health Equity
  • Leanne DeSouza-Kenney, Alexander Lawson Distinguished Fellow in Child Nutrition and Health Promotion
  • Vivian Choo, Tristan Lawson Distinguished Fellow in Physician Professional Development in Child Nutrition
  • Jessie Hulst, Alexander Lawson Distinguished Fellow in Child Nutrition and Physician Engagement
  • Matt Orava, Tristan Lawson Distinguished Fellow in Child Nutrition and Community Engagement

Several fellows have already launched exciting projects that will help advance our vision of lifelong health through better child nutrition. You can learn about their work and interests in our recent news story.

Last month, we co-hosted the 2023 Food as Medicine Update, a long-running annual symposium for health professionals on the role of nutrition in patient care. The focus this year was nutrition, functional foods and supplements for health optimization, and over 300 attendees took in talks from Professor Dean Ornish on lifestyle medicine, and from Professor Sonia Anand on ethnicity and metabolic syndrome, among others.

We also planned a workshop and digital education program to help boost the nutrition knowledge of health practitioners in 2024. The culinary medicine workshop will centre on dyslipidemia and cardiovascular risk, while the Lawson Centre Nutrition Digital Series, entering its second year, will offer 10 online sessions focused on cardiometabolic health.

Earlier this year, we initiated a five-year review process for the Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition. Two reviewers, Professors Kwame McKenzie and Norman Rosenblum, were appointed to provide feedback on the Centre’s progress since its establishment in 2016. Centre faculty, staff and learners prepared a report on our education and research activities, organizational and financial structure, infrastructure and partnerships, and the reviewers conducted focus groups to gather additional insights. My response to their findings will inform our new strategic planning process in the new year.

As we come to the end of 2023, I want to thank our faculty members, learners, staff and supporters — for your continued hard work and dedication to improving the health of children. I wish you all well on the coming holiday break, which I hope will provide a much-needed and well-deserved respite. And, I look forward to re-connecting with you in the new year, as we build on our success and find new ways to centre child nutrition in education, research and health care.

Professor Daniel Sellen
Director, Joannah & Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition
Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto