What I Learned at the 2017 Experimental Biology Conference

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At the end of April, I had the opportunity to attend, co-chair a session, and present at this year’s Experimental Biology (EB). Last year, I wrote about the top three things I learned from EB and thought it would be a good series to continue moving forward. This conference is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the latest research and attend sessions from leaders in nutrition and food science research as well as network with this engaged community. I was able to attend sessions over the course of four days and learned a ton along the way. Here are the top three takeaways from this year’s EB.

1. The microbiome is still a hot topic and isn’t going away anytime soon.

The microbiome was one of the topics I highlighted in last year’s EB article. Sessions examined the nutritional modulation of the microbiome, the role of the microbiome in obesity, and the impact of the microbiome at different life stages. Although there was much interest in this field, the main takeaway from these sessions is that we are still only beginning to learn how the microbiome affects different aspects of health.

2. The science community needs to be better communicators.

One of my favorite sessions to attend at EB is the Atwater Symposium, and this year’s session did not disappoint. Dennis Bier, MD, was this year’s W.O. Atwater Memorial Award Winner and he gave a compelling and inspiring presentation about the state of nutrition science. His talk, titled “Traveling the Road from Precision to Imprecision — Have I Gone in the Wrong Direction?” took an overarching look at nutrition science and the communication of its findings. Dr. Bier’s presentation discussed the importance of evaluating evidence and outlined strategies, such as a universal conflict of interest system, to improve accurate reporting, enhance scientific integrity, and limit bias. Through this system, not only will nutrition science advance, but also will help the communication of these findings be more clear and actionable.

3. Food technology is where it’s at.

The intersection of nutrition and food science has allowed for both innovative and healthier food and beverages. While we have covered how fortified foods and beverages have led to improved public health outcomes, speakers at EB showcased some new innovations in the food and health space. One important topic that many sessions focused on was the concept of sodium reduction. Through advancements with food scientists, new strategies are being proposed for reducing sodium in food products. One strategy is the creation of hollow salt microcrystals that allow for less sodium levels while still ensuring that taste and flavor profiles remain consistent. 

EB 2017 came and went in the blink of an eye — I’m already counting down to next year’s Nutrition 2018 meeting in Boston!