IAFNS Research Design Challenge

Finalists Announced for the NUTRITION 2018 Dietary Bioactives Research Design Challenge


Non-essential bioactive dietary components hold promise for helping maintain optimal health and reducing risk of chronic disease, yet most efficacy studies are not sufficiently designed or powered to measure their safety. In the IAFNS Research Design Challenge at NUTRITION 2018, interdisciplinary teams pitched novel research designs that integrate safety measures and primary efficacy measures into a single study. Data obtained from such studies will improve the confidence of regulatory bodies with product oversight and health professionals providing advice to the general public.

Research Design Challenge Objective: Demonstrate proof of principle for novel research designs to integrate more safety measures in research with the primary purpose of testing efficacy of dietary bioactives.

Congratulations to the finalists of the IAFNS NUTRITION 2018 Research Design Challenge:

First Place:

Team Rutgers, led by Alexandra Kreitman, Department of Nutritional Sciences
“Measuring Safety and Efficacy of a Health Promoting Dietary Component: Monitoring GI Side Effects of a Putative α-Glucosidase Inhibitor.”

Second Place: 

Team University of Alabama, Birmingham, led by Yuanyuan Rose Li, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
“An Effective Method to Balance Efficacy and Safety Test for Bioactive Soybean Isoflavone-Enhanced Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients.”


This challenge session was supported by the IAFNS Bioactive Committee.

Design challenge judges were Paul Coates, Office of Dietary Supplements; James Coughlin, Coughlin & Associates; and Christina Khoo, Ocean Spray Cranberries. Research teams were mentored by Jiang Hu, Herbalife; and Tia Rains, Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc.

The Association Between Macular Pigment Optical Density and Visual Function Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Flavan-3-ols and Cardiovascular Disease Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Dietary flavonoids integrate a diverse range of polyphenolic compounds that occur naturally in plant foods. To date, the sub-class flavan-3-ols has received the most research attention, with the majority of nutrition studies focused on two dietary sources: tea and chocolate. It is not clear if the metabolic and cardiovascular health benefits may be attributed flavan-3-ols or to other bioactive constituents in these foods. The aim of this project is to quantify the level of flavan-3-ols associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease outcomes grade the strength of evidence.

This project will be conducted in two phases: In Phase 1, an evidence map of flavan-3-ol intakes from all food sources as they relate to cardiovascular outcomes will be developed to determine whether or not evidence is sufficient to complete a quality systematic evidence review. Pending sufficient evidence, in Phase 2 a systematic evidence review of flavan-3-ols and cardiovascular health outcomes will be conducted and a quantified level of bioactive assessed.

Institution: Tufts Medical Center and University of East Anglia
Principal Investigator: Gowri Raman, MBBS, MS; Aedin Cassidy, PhD
Amount Awarded: $158,902
Year Awarded: 2016

Read more:

Dietary Intakes of Flavan-3-ols and Cardiovascular Health: A Field Synopsis Using Evidence Mapping of Randomized Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies

Dietary Intakes of Flavan-3-ols and Cardio-metabolic Health: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies

Learn more about the IAFNS Bioactives Committee.

Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Eye Health Visual Function Evidence Map and Systematic Review

Lutein/zeaxanthin, found in egg yolks and a variety of fruits and vegetables, is associated with healthy ocular tissue, but an amount recommended per day has not been established. The goal of this study is to determine the strength of evidence linking a specific quantity of lutein/zeaxanthin with normal healthy eye structure (including macular pigment density) and visual function among populations relevant to general population in North America. In Phase I, an evidence map will be developed to summarize the extent and distribution of evidence to provide investigators with information about the type and amount of research available, the characteristics of that research, and the topics where a sufficient amount of evidence has accumulated for synthesis. In Phase II, specific defined outcome(s) from the evidence map will be selected for systematic evidence review.

Institution: Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA at Tufts University
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Johnson, PhD
Amount Awarded: $115,086
Year Awarded: 2015

Read more: Lutein/Zeaxanthin Intake and Visual Outcomes in Adults with Healthy Eyes: Qualitative Gap Analysis

Read more: The Association Between Macular Pigment Optical Density and Visual Function Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Read more: The Effect of Lutein/Zeaxanthin Intake on Human Macular Pigment Optical Density: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Learn more about the IAFNS Bioactives Committee.