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Otago appoints Professor of Human Nutrition

7 May 2014

Otago appoints Professor of Human Nutrition

The University of Otago has appointed a leading nutrient, diet and heart disease researcher as its new Professor of Human Nutrition and Head of Department.

Professor Samir Samman comes to Otago from the School of Molecular Bioscience & Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney where he held both a lecturing and research role and was also an Honorary Research Fellow in Clinical Biochemistry at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Professor Samman has particular research interests in human nutrition and health having undertaken research projects in the areas of diet and chronic disease, and nutrient requirements. He also has research interests in nutraceuticals and environmental nutrition.

His research has particularly focussed on determining nutrient requirements for optimal health with a particular interest in zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

Meanwhile his work in diet and heart disease has examined the impact of a variety of nutrients and naturally occurring plant chemicals on plasma lipids and antioxidant activity, including research which was the first to show a key mechanism by which trans fats increase the risk of heart disease.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says Professor Samman will be an excellent addition to the Department of Human Nutrition.

“Samir Samman comes to the University with a proven track record in research and teaching. His areas of research interest are an extremely good fit with the Department's research priorities in areas such as diet and heart disease,” she says.

“Strong appointments such as this serve to underscore Otago's leadership in this field and bolster its role as a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Nutrition.”

Professor Samman says he is looking forward to his new role at Otago, which he takes up next week.

“We are facing the challenges of over-nutrition and under-nutrition, that co-exist often in the same community. The Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago is well placed to address these challenges at both national and international levels,” he says.

“I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues in the Department and indeed across the University.”

Professor Samman has also been the Editor for the Nutrition Society of Australia and is a member of the Editorial Board of several international journals. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Health (Australia) and Ministry of Health (NZ) Committee on Nutrient Reference Values.


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