Email: Ellen Fung
Phone: 510-428-4939

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Ellen Fung, PhD, RD, CCD is an Associate Research Scientist with advanced training in nutrition and a long-standing interest in the impact of nutrition on children with chronic disease.

The complexity of trace element metabolism and the paucity of information that is available for many of the essential trace minerals, particularly zinc, was an initial focus of Dr. Fung’s research. She undertook the first prospective study of mineral metabolism recruiting women prior to conception and following them through weaning their infants. A landmark study, Dr. Fungs’ findings have been cited numerous times in other publications by scientists in the field, and the results were also used to develop the new Dietary Reference Intakes for zinc during pregnancy and lactation (Institute of Medicine, 2001).

Dr. Fung has investigated energy expenditure in children with sickle cell disease (SCD), who commonly exhibit growth failure and delayed entrance into puberty, characteristic signs of malnutrition. Despite these obvious markers, there was little documentation of energy intake or expenditure in these populations, particularly during acute illness. Dr. Fung’s work focused on quantifying alterations in energy expenditure in children with SCD during an acute vaso-occulsive crisis. These data provided evidence that the etiology of malnutrition is not due to excess expenditure but simply poor dietary intake. Further studies suggested that energy expenditure could be modified slightly in response to a now commonly used drug Hydroxyurea.

Dr. Fung has continued to pursue the etiology of malnutrition and growth failure in children with SCD, conducting a prospective 12 month zinc supplementation study in children with SS type SCD, funded through the NHLBI, the results of which suggest that children with SCD have a growth limiting zinc deficiency. Dr. Fung’s current research focus is on children with thalassemia, the primary aim of which is to determine if zinc supplementation improves bone health in young patients with thalassemia.

Revised: Friday, November 14, 2014 3:24 PM


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