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Arnold School of Public Health

American Society for Nutrition Foundation honors Edward Frongillo with lifetime achievement award

June 27, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

Two years after the American Society for Nutrition Foundation selected Edward Frongillo to receive the 2020 E.V. McCollum International Lectureships in Nutrition Award, the health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) professor has been honored with another senior investigator award from the organization. For nearly 30 years, the Foundation has recognized the lifetime contributions of a single investigator to global nutrition research as one of its annual scientific achievement awards. 

This year, the organization raised funds to establish an endowment and name the award after its inaugural awardee. Frongillo is the first recipient of the newly named Jean-Pierre Habicht Lifetime Achievements in Global Nutrition Research Award, which focuses on contributions to global nutrition research that benefits populations in non-industrialized nations and the training of new scientists in the field.

"Jean-Pierre has been my friend, colleague and mentor for 45 years. The intellectual contributions that he has made to global nutrition, and that he has inspired others to make, have been enormous," says Frongillo. “My receiving this award that honors him and the other great global nutrition scientists who have received it over the past 27 years is amazing and gratifying.”

Frongillo joined the Arnold School in 2006 after completing his graduate degrees (Ph.D., M.S. in Biometry; M.S. in Human Nutrition) and his first 25 years of nutrition research and teaching at Cornell University. He spent the next 15 years researching how to improve the growth, development, feeding, care and survival of infants and young children in settings around the world. His work also examines the measurement, determinants and consequences of household and child food insecurity and aims to understand how to advance policy and programs for improving nutrition and development.  

“Dr. Frongillo’s extraordinary career has focused on maternal and child nutrition in low- and middle-income countries and on vulnerable populations in the U.S.,” says Sera Young, associate professor of anthropology and global health at Northwestern University and one of the 10 nutrition researchers who nominated Frongillo for the award. “While he has researched and published on many important topics in nutrition, his interdisciplinary exploration of the measurement, determinants and consequences of household and child food insecurity could be considered his major contributions to the field of nutrition.”

In the 1990s, Frongillo led the development and validation of a food insecurity scale that was then adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture. For the past two decades, he and others have been using this scale to assess food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries. Additional contributions Frongillo has made to the field include a better understanding of the biology of child growth, the advancement of policy and programming, and superior methods to measuring nutrition.

“His influence ranges from impact on programs to improve food insecurity among children and older adults in the U.S. to advancing large-scale maternal and child nutrition programs in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia,” says HPEB associate professor Christine Blake. “In addition, his mentorship of scientists from low- and middle-income countries and the U.S. has amplified his impact both on research and on policies and programs.”

Frongillo has mentored dozens upon dozens of students and colleagues over the years who have become better researchers and practitioners dedicated to advancing the field of nutrition. His work has resulted in more than 435 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 40,000 citations to date. In addition to his two awards from the American Society for Nutrition Foundation, Frongillo’s efforts were recognized in 2019 with the Arnold School Faculty Research Award

“Professor Frongillo’s sustained excellence in research has had a tremendous positive impact on the nutrition policy and practice around the world,” says Andrea Warren, a Science & Technology Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “His thoughtful and pragmatic mentorship has influenced the lives of many individuals, and they carry forward a legacy of work influenced by him; many of us continue to do so in collaboration with him.”

Prominent organizations, such as WHO, UNICEF, FAO, World Bank, USAID and USDA, have sought Frongillo’s expertise as they grapple with the nation’s and the world’s nutrition challenges. The thought leader currently serves as co-chair of the WHO-UNICEF Technical Expert Advisory Group on Nutrition Monitoring, past-chair of the Global Nutrition Council at the American Society for Nutrition, and president of the Society for Implementation Science in Nutrition. He is the director of the Arnold School’s Global Health Initiatives and co-leads the Drivers of Food Choice Grant Program at UofSC.

“Professor Frongillo’s career exemplifies a strong and deep commitment to improving the nutrition, health, and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable populations through rigorous academic research and public service,” says Jef Leroy, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “Indeed, his contributions are very much in the spirit of all that Dr. Habicht has contributed to global nutrition. The fact that Professor Habicht served on Dr. Frongillo’s dissertation committee makes this prize all the more meaningful.”


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