Progress in nutrition and dietetics

Many graduates today have leadership roles within health services, the food industry, government and public health agencies due to the pioneering efforts of people like Linda Tapsell.

Professor Tapsell, who in 2015 received the Order of Australia for ‘significant service to health science as an academic and clinician specialising in diet and nutrition’, is involved with a number of national and international expert committees.

Her research and teaching targets human health by combining knowledge of nutrient related biochemistry and physiology with that of food composition, the food supply and food consumption patterns.

She first graduated with a BSc (Biochemistry and Pharmacology) followed by post graduate studies in Nutrition and Dietetics. This enabled professional practice in large teaching hospitals and in public health, and it was at this time her children arrived.

As her work required more than science training, she undertook a Masters in medical education. Tapsell helped set up the Dietetics program at Wollongong (1990), and completed a PhD in Public Health and Nutrition.

The Nutrition and Dietetics programs became popular quickly, producing thousands of graduates over time.

Tapsell, from UOW’s School of Medicine, helped lead the creation of the ARC Key Centre for Smart Foods (1999) and later the National Centre of Excellence in Functional Foods  in partnership with CSIRO, DPI-Vic and Food Science Australia (2003-2009).

“As Director I worked with a great team of scientists from a range of disciplines to deliver a program of fundamental research and commercially oriented projects with the food industry,” she said.

New Health Claims legislation followed, demanding reviews of scientific evidence _ an emerging methodology that has influenced Tapsell’s research in recent years.

Tapsell remains on a number of national and international expert committees addressing this evidence, in grant applications or policy-related activities. She is a Fellow and Life Member of the Dietitians Association of Australia.

Tapsell has received more than $15 million in research funding and has more than 170 publications in scientific journals and many more in other media.