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The right nutrition can help to solve many problems

Stine Marie Ulven took over as the new Head of the Department of Nutrition from 1st January. You can read about her ambitions for the Department here.

Stine Ulven sitting in front of a laptop

Professor Stine Marie Ulven, the new Head of the Department of Nutrition at IMB. Photo: private

Stine Marie Ulven graduated as a nutritionist at UiO and took her master’s degree in 1995. She also completed her PhD and held a postdoctoral post here. In 2015, she returned to the Department as a professor after working as an associate professor at Akershus University College (now OsloMet).

Ulven has ambitious plans for the Department:
– Nutrition is an incredibly important discipline and it will be no less important once the pandemic is over. When it comes to prevention, we know that an unhealthy diet is one of the biggest risk factors for early mortality.

Nutrition science can help to solve many problems

Ulven highlights the prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases and malnutrition as important focus areas for the discipline going forward. Malnutrition is a serious problem in hospitals, especially amongst cancer patients. Obesity and cardio-vascular diseases represent major challenges in our society, where we also have an ageing population of increasing frailty and with impaired cognitive functions. 

– These are areas where we need more research in order to gain a better understanding of the significance of nutrition and how we can find better ways of improving the nutritional status and diet of these patient groups.

Ulven also draws attention to the momentous environmental and climate issues facing us, which in turn affect food production.

– Nutrition and sustainability are on the agenda of the EU and Norway and will be an incredibly important area of research in the years to come in order to safeguard good nutrition and a sustainable society.

Our Department consists of three Sections and we have a unique opportunity to solve major societal challenges by working together more effectively, she says enthusiastically.

Setting the agenda

Stine Marie Ulven has been the Deputy Head of Department for nearly two years and has therefore gained a good insight into what the post of Departmental Head involves. She likes to contribute towards putting important matters on the agenda for discussion.

While employed at Akershus University College, she was a member of the College Board and also of the Board of the Faculty of Health Sciences. In addition, she has been a member of the Institute Council at IMB.

– These positions have provided me with a valuable insight into the parameters that affect our work at the Department and the responsibility that educational institutions have to manage their resources to the best possible benefit of society. Taking on this position gives me the opportunity to help our Department to develop further so that we continue to be the leading centre for research and teaching in nutrition and extend our international standing.

Building on the work of Rune Blomhoff

Professor Ulven takes over from professor Rune Blomhoff who was Head of Department for as long as 13 years.

– He has done an enormous amount to strengthen the infrastructure of the Department, for example by establishing core facilities for studies in clinical nutrition, the Norwegian Transgenic Center and an analytical laboratory. Rune has also made a major contribution towards promoting clinical nutrition and establishing a 5-year professional study course in clinical nutrition.

Blomhoff was Ulven’s supervisor when she took her PhD in 2000 and she recognises in him a visionary researcher.

– It is my particular aim to build on Rune’s good work and to encourage more of us to use our core facilities and develop them further together.

Ulven hopes to realise more collaborative projects with international research groups and to strengthen the Department’s position as a leading centre for nutrition science in Europe.

– Since Rune has been at the helm for so many years, it is with great respect for him as a researcher and leader that I now take over responsibility for the Department.

– It is also a big challenge taking over as Head of Department in the middle of a pandemic.

Stine Ulven sittende i blå genser foran laptop
Professor Stine Marie Ulven in her home office. Photo: private

Research into the importance of fat intake for the body’s biological processes

Professor Ulven leads the research group “Personal nutrition and the prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases”.

– We want to gain a holistic understanding of how diet and especially fat intake affect the body’s biological processes so that we can find out why some patients respond better to treatments than others.

The aim is to generate new knowledge as a basis for public health dietary recommendations tailored to specific groups of people or to individuals (personal nutrition), with the overall aim of preventing lifestyle diseases.

Inspiring young, female researchers

– I am keen to promote women’s careers in academia beyond that of just “doing a doctorate”. Our discipline has always been dominated by women and yet I am the first female Head of Department. I think this is a step forward and I hope it will inspire many of our young and talented female researchers and students. 

By Thomas Olafsen
Published Feb. 11, 2021 3:50 PM - Last modified Feb. 11, 2021 3:58 PM