Dr. Marian Kjellevold joins FISH Independent Steering Committee

WorldFish has appointed Dr. Marian Kjellevold to the FISH Independent Steering Committee (ISC). She joins a diverse group of scientists, practitioners and representatives from end-user bodies that reports directly to the WorldFish Board of Trustees on the performance of the FISH research program.

Kjellevold is the Head of Research at the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Norway. Widely published and cited, she is an expert in nutrition, with a particular interest in how micronutrients from fish influence nutritional status and health. 

In recent years, she has worked with longitudinal cohort studies on pregnant women and infants, and randomized intervention trials with fish. Outcome variables are status (iodine, vitamin D, marine fatty acids and mercury), mental health and cognitive performance.

The IMR is a reference laboratory for the Norwegian Food Safety Authorities, and her research group is responsible for the projects providing analytical data for the Norwegian food composition table. 

Overlapping research areas

Kjellevold’s association with WorldFish goes back to 2016, when she collaborated with the FISH Value Chains and Nutrition Research Leader Shakuntala Thilsted on a workshop organized by the University of Bergen. 

“Since then we have extended our collaboration, for example through research connected to the EAN-Nansen Program in the Bay of Bengal in 2018. For the first time, nutrition and food safety was included as a research theme in the EAF-Nansen Science Plan in 2017 and, with help from Shakuntala, the program’s Dr. Fridtjof Nansen marine vessel had a WorldFish scientist from the Bangladesh office on board.” 

Kjellevold sees her appointment to the ISC as an exciting opportunity to cement this relationship. “The research areas of FISH overlap with the main research areas of the group I am leading at IMR,” she says.

“Through the EAN-Nansen Program, we so far have samples of wild fish from the coast of Africa and the Bay of Bengal. The samples will be analyzed for selected nutrients, and will help to fill the knowledge gap on nutrient composition of local fish. Analytical data on food composition builds the basis for estimating and evaluating the nutrient intake of individuals and population groups, is used for developing food-based dietary guidelines as well as for food and nutrition policies.”

She notes that sound compositional data that is both comprehensive and representative of available food is an essential basic tool for virtually all quantitative nutrition research. However, she adds that aquatic food is often neglected when discussing strategies for combating e.g. micronutrient deficiencies. 

“Supplementation or fortification of agricultural crops are common approaches and often ignore the use of aquatic food as an alternative and more sustainable solution. As a member of the ISC, I look forward to contributing my knowledge within the research areas mentioned above and facilitating new research that aims to fill knowledge gaps that can contribute to improved food and nutrition security.”