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Arnold School of Public Health

Edward Frongillo wins national award from American Society for Nutrition Foundation

May 29, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

The American Society for Nutrition Foundation has announced the winners of their 2020 National Scientific Achievement Awards, and Edward Frongillo has received the E.V. McCollum International Lectureships in Nutrition Award. Established in honor of E.V. McCollum, this award is designed to recognize individuals who advance nutritional science and its application for improving the health and well-being of people worldwide.

A member of the Arnold School since 2006, Frongillo is a professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior and the director of the School’s Global Health Initiatives. His research focuses on 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.  

“With over 30 years of experience in research, teaching and support to policies and programs, Dr. Frongillo is an extremely well-regarded researcher and thought leader who has had, and continues to have, major impact within and beyond the international nutrition community,” says HPEB associate professor Christine Blake, who is among a handful of researchers who nominated Frongillo for this award. “His influence ranges from impact on programs to improve food insecurity among children and older adults in the U.S. to improving large-scale maternal and child nutrition programs in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia. 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.”

Nutrition has been the focus of Frongillo’s career since he completed his first master’s degree (Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Human Development) at Cornell University. A few years later, he earned Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in biometry, with a focus in human nutrition, from the same institution. Following his 1991 graduation, Frongillo conducted research in his alma mater’s Division of Nutritional Sciences for 15 years before joining the Arnold School’s HPEB department as chair – a position he held for 10 years.

Over the past three decades, Frongillo has amassed nearly 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals. One of his notable achievements was the development and validation of a food insecurity scale in the 1990s that was adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture. The following decade saw Frongillo as one of the first researchers to assess food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries.

“The development of instruments to measure food insecurity in developing country contexts facilitated a shift from reacting to overt signs of malnutrition toward prevention of malnutrition by intervening early to reduce food insecurity over the long term,” says nominator Jef Leroy, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute who has conducted research with Frongillo on the proper use and interpretation of child linear growth as a measure in development. "Other key contributions include using Frongillo's understanding of the biology of child growth to help the World Health Organization develop a growth standard, his research on how to advance policy and programs for improving nutrition and development in low- and middle-income countries, and his methodological work on measurement in nutrition."

Frongillo has lent his expertise to prominent organizations (e.g., WHO, UNICEF, FAO, World Bank, USAID, USDA) and continues to provide leadership through roles such as chair of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Alive & Thrive, chair of the Global Nutrition Council at the American Society for Nutrition and methods councilor with the Society for Implementation Science in Nutrition. He co-leads the Drivers of Food Choice Grant Program at UofSC and received the Arnold School Faculty Research Award in 2019.

“Dr. Frongillo’s sustained excellence in research has had a tremendous positive impact globally on the field of nutrition and nutrition policy and practice,” says Purnima Menon, who is also a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and has known Frongillo since he advised her as a doctoral student. “His thoughtful and pragmatic mentorship has influenced the lives of many individuals, and they carry forward a legacy of work influenced by him, and many continue to do so in collaboration with him.”

“Dr. Frongillo’s career exemplifies a strong and deep commitment to improving the nutrition, health, and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable populations through rigorous academic research and public service,” adds HPEB research associate Andrea Warren. “He is highly deserving of this award.”


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