The executive board of Wageningen University & Research has appointed Dr Marian de van der Schueren special professor of Dietetics with the chair group Global Nutrition. The appointment, which came into effect on 1 June, is funded by the Dutch Dietetic Association.
Prof. Dr. Marian de van der Schueren (1962) studied Nutrition and Dietetics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. From 1990 to 2019, she worked at the Amsterdam University Medical Centres, location VUmc, as a dietitian, researcher, department head and finally as a research coordinator for the department of nutrition and dietetics. In 2000, she became the first clinical dietitian in the Netherlands to obtain her PhD. Her thesis bore the title ‘Malnutrition in head and neck cancer patients’.
Marian de van der Schueren is a Professor of Nutrition and Health at the HAN since 2013. At the end of 2019, she was awarded the prestigious EFAD European Honorary Dietetic Fellowship Award 2019. This award is the highest accolade for dietitians that have continuously, outstanding and significantly contributed to the development of dietetics, research or global education. She was published approximately 150 times in peer-reviewed national and international magazines.
The link between humans and nutrition is particularly complicated. Dietetics is the study of this relationship. In contrast to other European nations, dietetics is not yet offered as a masters course in the Netherlands. The chair now aims to contribute to the development of this field of expertise. De van der Schueren: “The Global Agreement on paramedical healthcare (‘Hoofdlijnenakkoord paramedici’) led to the Research Agenda Dietetics. One of its key focus areas is to use evidence-based dietetics to prove that this field of expertise deserves a place in the academic community.”
Nutrition has a crucial role in preventing disease. But also in the treatment of a great many medical conditions. In her research, Prof. De van der Schueren will apply herself to scientifically substantiating the efficacy of dietetic interventions in the prevention and treatment of disease.
The second line of research is improving the nutrition and nutritional condition of patients with an elevated risk. “For example, vulnerable elderly”, Prof. De van der Schueren clarifies. “We strive to support this group so that they can remain fit and vital longer. This approach not only encompasses nutrition advice but also mapping what the subjects indicate they need and are capable of”.
Special attention is paid to practical research. Prof. De van der Schueren explains: “I observe from the patient and client perspective, and map their needs and circumstances, as well as the contextual factors that influence their food choices”. She continues: “We also look into technological instruments that could support consultations, and carry out nutritional assessments”.
The special chair is incorporated in of the chair group Global Nutrition (Prof. Edith Feskens), which is part of the Human Nutrition and Health department. This embedded structure allows collaboration with other scientists in studying the impact of nutrition on our health and recovery from disease. De van der Schueren: ‘For each new research proposal, we look for suitable partners such as nutritional scientists, doctors, behavioural scientists or physiotherapists. An integral approach will allow us to move forward on the issue of health.’
The Netherlands Dietitians Association (NVD) is the professional association of dietitians. The NVD collaborates intensively with other (para)medical associations, the gouvernment, municipalities and health insurance companies.