VALENCIA, Spain – Dr. Anahit Demirchyan, MD, (MPH ’99), Senior Researcher at the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development, American University of Armenia (AUA) Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH), had the opportunity to present her work at the 6thInternational Conference on Nutrition and Growth that took place in Valencia, Spain, on March 7-9, 2019. Her participation in the conference was made possible through the AUA Professional Development Grant Award. The conference hosted nearly 1,700 participants from 92 countries. Dr. Demirchyan was the only representative from Armenia. She presented her qualitative research on barriers to optimal breastfeeding practices in Armenia as an e-poster, which was open to participants during the whole conference. The research raised significant interest among the conference participants.
Dr. Demirchyan reflected on her experience: “The conference impressed me with the quality and scientific rigor of the presented studies. The vast majority of these studies were either randomized clinical trials or meta-analysis of large volumes of previously published observational research data, mostly presented by members of the scientific committee of the conference – distinguished faculty members from renowned universities of Europe and the USA. Almost all the themes touched upon during the conference were of high interest to me, exactly matching my research interests as a pediatrician and public health specialist involved in nutritional research.”
The conference provided new insights on nutrition practices during pregnancy and infancy, its relation to child’s adiposity later-on, optimal nutritional solutions for very low birth weight neonates and for those infants with different digestive disorders and gut microbiota modifications. The presented new findings on the relation of infant’s nutrition and environment with his/her gut microbiota and long-term physical and neurocognitive development opened new prospects for further research.
Affordable strategies for establishing human milk banks in low-resource countries are of particular interest for Armenia that lacks human milk banks because of the assumed high costs related to their establishment. Human milk pasteurization techniques that would allow preserving its protective and bioactive qualities while eliminating its microbial contamination were also very useful. Networking events organized during the first and second days of the conference provided the participants with opportunities to grow their professional network, present their home institutions, and share their research experiences. According to Dr. Demirchyan, “Participation in such events is essential for professional growth, learning and getting enriched, and becoming a part of the world’s scientific community with research interests and concerns very similar to what we have in Armenia.”
The AUA Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.