Christine McDonald, ScD
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Christine McDonald, ScD is an Assistant Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and Deputy Director of the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (www.izincg.org). She is also a Visiting Assistant Researcher in the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Dr. McDonald’s research is primarily based in global health nutrition with an emphasis on the design and evaluation of interventions to prevent and treat maternal and child undernutrition in resource-limited settings. Dr. McDonald received her doctoral degree in nutritional epidemiology from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and completed her post-doctoral training at Boston Children’s Hospital. She also received a MSc in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and trained as a clinical dietitian at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Dr. McDonald has conducted applied nutrition research around the globe. Her research in Tanzania identified risk factors and consequences of undernutrition among HIV-exposed children, examined the effects of micronutrient supplementation for the prevention of child morbidity, and investigated the association between biomarkers of environmental enteric dysfunction and child growth. In Mali, she and her colleagues evaluated the effects of different dietary interventions on recovery rates and changes in body composition among young children with moderate acute malnutrition. Dr. McDonald has also led an epidemiological analysis of the association between multiple anthropometric deficits and mortality in more than 50,000 children from 10 low- and middle-income countries.

In collaborations with the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, Dr. McDonald has estimated the costs of scaling up critical nutrition interventions worldwide, evaluated community-based programs to improve child health and nutrition, and investigated the association between food insecurity and acute malnutrition.

Zinc nutrition is a key focus of Dr. McDonald’s current research. Zinc is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in low-income countries and accounts for approximately 100,000 child deaths each year. Although small-scale studies have demonstrated the benefits of zinc supplementation and fortification, few large-scale efficacy and effectiveness trials have been carried out. Dr. McDonald and her colleagues at IZiNCG and icddr,b are conducting a large community-based trial of zinc supplementation in young Bangladeshi children to determine the optimal physical form, dose, and frequency for reducing the risk of diarrhea and improving linear growth. Other IZiNCG research activities focus on zinc fortification of staple foods for the improvement of health outcomes among women of reproductive age, the development and evaluation of dietary zinc and phytate assessment tools, and the development of a simulation model to test interventions for restoring zinc pools in zinc deficient infants.

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