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Dr Wendy Hall awarded Nutrition Society Medal

Wendy Hall

Dr Wendy Hall, a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences, has been awarded a silver medal by the Nutrition Society for scientific excellence in her field. 

The prestigious Silver Medal has been awarded annually since 1991 for scientific excellence in the field of nutrition. Winners of the medal are invited to the Nutrition Society's annual Summer Conference to receive their award and present a paper describing their work. The paper is then published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (PNS) journal.

On receiving news of her medal, Dr Hall said ‘I am thrilled to be awarded the Nutrition Society Silver Medal. I feel very privileged to receive this prestigious annual award, which recognises my group’s achievements in nutrition research over the last 10 years. It rounds off a fantastic academic year for me, which started with promotion to Senior Lecturer, followed by a number of research grant successes, and ending with this opportunity to present an overview of my research into the role of n-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular health. I am looking forward to delivering my Silver Medal talk at the annual Nutrition Society Summer Meeting in Dublin next month.’

Dr Hall’s paper is titled ‘The future for long chain n-3 PUFA in cardiovascular protection – do we need to target non-fish eaters?’, and explains that, although the benefits of healthy dietary patterns are clear, a detailed understanding of the scientific basis for dietary advice is needed to fine-tune current guidelines towards individuals, particularly as nutraceutical products/functional foods are a growth area commercially. Dietary guidelines in many countries include a recommendation to consume oily fish, mainly on the basis of evidence from prospective cohort studies, but average intakes are very low in a large proportion of the UK population. Some groups, such as vegans and vegetarians, actively avoid eating fish. Although the efficacy of dietary eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in the prevention of CVD has been questioned in recent years, it is clear that these fatty acids exert systemic pleiotropic effects through their influence on gene expression, cell signalling, membrane fluidity and by acting as precursors to autacoid lipid mediators that resolve inflammatory events. The potential long-term impact of reduced tissue EPA+DHA content on the cardio-metabolic health of groups with very low or zero dietary intakes is currently poorly understood. The clinical benefits of supplementing non-fish eating groups with vegetarian (e.g. algal) sources of pure DHA (or EPA) remain to be determined. Refocusing dietary LC n-3 PUFA intervention studies towards those individuals with a low LC n-3 PUFA tissue status may go some way towards reconciling results from randomised controlled trials with the epidemiological evidence.

Dr Hall began her career at the University of Surrey, where she carried out her PhD in dietary protein and appetite under the supervision of Professors Linda Morgan and Joe Millward. She then stayed on at the University of Surrey to conduct her postdoctoral studies on Vitamin E biokinetics, and cardio-metabolic effects of dietary isoflavones and fatty acids at the University of Reading.

Dr Hall has been a registered Nutritionist since 2005, when she also took up her first academic appointment at King’s. Close collaborations with Professor Caroline Wheeler-Jones, Professor Tom Sanders and Dr Sarah Berry have provided the stimulus for a number of randomised controlled trials to investigate how long chain n-3 PUFA or interesterified fats may influence vascular function and lipid metabolism, particularly in the postprandial phase. Clinical partnerships (Dr Helen MacLaughlin, King’s College Hospital) have led to innovative studies into efficacy of weight loss therapies in chronic kidney disease patients. More recently the potential utility of fruit polyphenols in lowering postprandial glycaemia and unravelling the intermediary gastrointestinal mechanisms has been a predominant theme in her research activities. Dr Hall is the recipient of research funding from Department of Health, BBSRC and Innovate UK.

You can also read an interview with Dr Hall on our Division's Women in Science pages.