Nutrition conference gives scientists food for thought

The largest annual meeting of animal nutrition scientists in the world gathered over 250 scientists who shared the latest research over the three-day event


The conference is the largest annual meeting of animal nutrition scientists in the world. In September 2017, the setting was the picturesque Cotswold town of Cirencester in the UK. Over 250 scientists gathered at the historic Royal Agricultural University (RAU) to meet, mingle and share their research. Seasoned experts and fresh-faced students alike filled the lecture theatres during the three-day gathering.

WALTHAM’s connection with ESVCN (European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition) goes back a long way. The current president of the society is Prof Pat Harris, Head of the WALTHAM Equine Studies Group. This provided a great opportunity for the team to get more involved this year. WALTHAM Associates chaired a number of scientific sessions and scientists Dr Matt Harrison and Dr Sophie Bradley presented results from their latest studies.

A strong theme emerging at the congress was Vitamin D. A plenary session on the vitamin, from Prof Roger Bouillon of the University of Leuven, revealed that serious deficiencies of this crucial compound are widespread in human populations around the globe. The Vitamin D issues for various animal species were highlighted by Prof Ellen Dierenfeld in her plenary lecture, providing valuable discussion points for delegates.

It may not quite rival the Oscars, but prizes and awards featured heavily at the event. Several speakers were at the conference as a result of winning WALTHAM funded travel bursaries at other nutrition conferences. The awards were given to the best presentations from scientists in the early stages of their careers. The speakers presented their prize-winning research to the audience in Cirencester, showcasing the talent within the animal nutrition community

All delegates know that a conference isn’t just about what happens during the day, and this was no exception. The social and cultural aspects of the conference were well catered for with a drinks reception, gala dinner, ceilidh and a walking tour to see the sights of the historic town. “The social activities were a fantastic way to meet other people during the conference,” said Dr Sophie Bradley “Events like this are perfect for meeting my peers in nutrition research around the world, I’ve really built up my network whilst I’ve been here.”