By way of a quick introduction, my background is in nutrition and dietetics – I graduated from the University of Surrey in 1986, and went on to do a PhD on “Energy balance in critical illness” at the University of Liverpool. I worked as a clinical dietitian in various roles in the UK before joining Nutricia’s R&D team in The Netherlands in 1992. I have worked with Nutricia ever since in various roles, my current position being Global Scientific Affairs Director within the Medical Department of the Medical Nutrition division, based at our headquarters at Schiphol near Amsterdam. I have a huge passion for all aspects of medical nutrition ranging from tube feeds and oral nutritional supplements through to specialised products for cow’s milk allergy, inborn errors of metabolism and applications in new areas such as Alzheimer’s disease. An evidence-based approach is crucial in my view for securing the implementation of appropriate nutritional care as a part of patient management.
Within my current role at Nutricia I am closely involved in 3 main areas:
1. Working externally with the medical nutrition international industry trade association and other stakeholders to work on joint initiatives that aim to raise awareness of the adverse consequences of disease-related malnutrition and improve nutritional care. In addition I am often invited to speak on medical nutrition topics at conferences and meetings around the world, and am closely involved in identifying expert practitioners who are advocates for good nutritional care to take part in internal and external events such as advisory boards and symposia
2. Working internally with R&D and colleagues in our country organisations as well as with external experts to design and publish high quality studies that help to enrich our understanding of the value that medical nutrition can bring for individuals as well as healthcare systems
3. Development and implementation of a people strategy for the medical function within our organization in order to support our colleagues, many of whom are dietitians, to grow, develop and progress in their career
Having been an occasional reviewer in the past, I joined the JHND team as an Associate Editor for the Clinical Nutrition section in January 2012 on invitation of the previous editor. I saw this as an opportunity to understand better the internal workings of a journal, to expose myself to new topics, to hone my critical appraisal skills, and to extend my network with other professionals in the field. So far I feel that all these objectives have been met. It does require a certain time commitment – since I started 47 manuscripts have been dealt with. This involves reviewing the manuscripts, selecting and communicating with reviewers (usually at least 2 per manuscript), managing the responses, giving input to the authors, re-reviewing resubmissions, communicating with the editor and making decisions to accept, reject or request modifications. With my busy job and private life (two young boys who are hockey mad), it would be very easy to conclude that I don’t have time for this, but I feel it adds a very interesting and significant dimension to my work. With respect to term, I originally had in mind to commit for at least 2 years, and then review, keeping in mind the work commitment required as well as the value I feel I can add / gain. As I approach the 2 year mark, I really hope that I will be able to continue my role as associate editor for some time longer.
I feel that the journal is going from strength to strength. The current editor has introduced some changes and more clearly defined targets and guidance which has been very helpful to drive through-put of manuscript submissions. I feel that those involved in the journal are becoming a cohesive team with shared objectives for the advancement of the journal, which I believe will become more and more important in the future as a source of highly relevant information for dietitians. From my perspective I am keen to see manuscripts which report on well-designed studies which demonstrate the added value of good quality nutritional care, guide practitioners towards improved practice, identify gaps for further research, and which will further enhance the quality of the evidence base. I would also encourage dietitians and healthcare professionals from other fields to sign up as reviewers – being part of the peer-review process is a really enriching experience.