I come from High Wycombe in the beautiful Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire in the UK. While studying for my A levels I decided I wanted to do something for the starving millions in the world. After graduating with a degree in dietetics and clinical biochemistry at Surrey University in 1973, my first job was as a VSO volunteer in Indonesia working for the East Java Provincial Health Authority based in Surabaya.
There I learned the hard way what public health nutrition was, and realised that I needed to get better qualified to do this work. So I applied for a Masters at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I got a scholarship which allowed me to go pretty much anywhere to do my thesis work, and so I went to Brazil where I met my wife and the rest is family history! I then worked eight years for the Brazilian Research Council as a researcher at their Amazonian Research Institute in Manaus, where I helped to establish the food and nutrition department and carried out research on zinc nutrition among the people of the Amazon valley. This became the subject of my PhD thesis.
In the mid 1980s I decided to move away from researching the ‘what’ of nutrition and start working on the ‘why’ and ‘how’, and joined UNICEF. I worked six years with UNICEF in Brazil helping to establish community based nutrition work in the North-East region especially, before transferring to Indonesia as the number two in the UNICEF office in Jakarta..
After seven years in Indonesia I was asked to become Chief of Nutrition with UNICEF in New York, which I did for two years before deciding for family reasons ‘to return home’ to the UK. After a brief sojourn in the UK, between 2004 and 2009 I returned to the UN as Secretary of the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition, based in Geneva. All in all some 35 years working in nutrition in development, with 30 of these spent living and working in economically developing counties. I am now living in the Algarve in Portugal.
BSc (Hons) in Nutrition and Dietetics, 1972. MSc in Nutrition (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), 1975. PhD 1980. From 1975-1984, worked as a research associate with the Brazilian Research Council in Manaus, Brazil. During this time conducted the first rural nutrition surveys of riverside inhabitants of the rivers Negro and Solimoes. From 1984-2000, worked for UNICEF: six years in Brazil, seven years in Indonesia, two years at headquarters in New York as Chief of Nutrition.
From 1988-1989, worked with the Cornell University Food and Nutrition Policy programme, with Per Pinstrup Andersen and Jean-Pierre Habicht. We developed the concepts of community based nutritional surveillance, as well as the protocol for a randomised controlled trial of vitamin A supplementation during infancy. From 2000 to date I havw been an honorary senior research fellow and then an honorary member of department at the Centre for International Health and Development, University College, London. From 2000-2004 I worked for UNICEF, the World Bank, WHO, and for Helen Keller International, as a freelance consultant. Among other things helped four countries (Angola, Pakistan, East Timor, and Mozambique) develop national nutrition strategies.
From 2004-2009 I was Secretary, UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition. Responsibilities included organising the SCN annual sessions and producing SCN publications including its reports on the world nutrition situation. Association founding member, initial Secretary-General, now Council member.