Global Nutrition Working Group

The Global Nutrition Working Group (GNWG) is a group of leading authorities on nutrition and medical care for vulnerable children and children living without parental care. The GNWG was formed to provide guidance on the development of program materials, including the content for The GNWG is composed of the following experts (with more joining fall 2013):

Jane Aronson, MD (year one only)

Dr. Aronson has been a pediatrician since 1986. She has a solo pediatric practice in Manhattan specializing in adoption medicine since 2000 and has evaluated well over 10,000 adopted children; she has traveled to orphanages in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Haiti and Latin America while on medical missions.

In addition, Dr. Aronson is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Cornell University and Columbia University.

Since 1997, she has provided direct services to orphaned children through her foundation, Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO began its work by commissioning university students and healthcare professionals, called “Orphan Rangers,” to support orphans. Since its inception, WWO has sent more than 130 Orphan Rangers to nine countries.

Dr. Aronson is the parent of two sons through adoption.

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Julian Davies, MD

Dr. Davies is the co-director of the Center for Adoption Medicine at the University of Washington. He is also the editor of, an online resource for medical and developmental issues in adoption. His interest in adoption comes from his years clowning, teaching children’s theater, and leading summer camps with groups of Moscow orphans. In his clinical practice, he has an interest in integrative and nutritional approaches to neuro-developmental issues.

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Michael Georgieff, MD

Dr. Georgieff is a Professor of Pediatrics and Child Development at the University of Minnesota where he is Head of the Section of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics, and Director of the Center on Neurobehavioral Development. He is a renowned expert on early nutrition and the brain having served on the Committee on Nutrition and the Breastfeeding Work Group for the American Academy of Pediatrics and on the Nutrition Study Section for the National Institutes of Health. He is a member of the American Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Academic Societies. He has written over 120 articles and book chapters on nutrition and brain development in the newborn and early childhood period, and is a contributing author to AAP’s Handbook on Nutrition. His research focuses on fetal/newborn nutrition, specifically the effect of iron nutrition on brain development and neurocognitive function. He lectures nationally and internationally on nutrition and the developing brain.

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John Himes, PhD  (years one and two)

Dr. Himes is Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the School of Public Health at University of Minnesota. John serves on the Expert Panel for Nutrition for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva; on the Advisory Group on standardizing anthropometric and body composition measurements and reporting for the National Institutes of Health; and recently completed his service on the Advisory Group on the construction of growth velocity standards, Department of Nutrition and Health, WHO, Geneva. He additionally serves as a member of NIH’s Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity, and Diabetes Epidemiology Study Section. He is an experienced researcher and well-published expert in the areas of physical growth and maturation of children; growth and nutrition; anthropometric assessment of nutritional status and dietary assessment.

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Dana Johnson, MD, PhD

Dr. Johnson is a Professor of Pediatrics, member of the Division of Neonatology and a faculty member in the Global Pediatrics Program at the University of Minnesota where Dr. Johnson co-founded the International Adoption Program in 1986. His research interests include the effects of early institutionalization on growth and development and the outcomes of internationally adopted children. Dr. Johnson is an invited speaker worldwide, a Senior Research Fellow in the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and has authored over 200 scholarly works. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Joint Council for International Children’s Services, Friend of Children Award from the North American council on Adoptable Children and the Harry Holt Award from Holt International. He is a member of the Board of Directors of JCICS and Half The Sky Foundation. He is also the father of three children including an adopted son from India.

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Zeina Makhoul, PhD, RD

Zeina is a Registered Dietitian and has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a focus on international nutrition. Her doctoral work included studies on iron deficiency and night blindness in Nepalese pregnant women and birth outcomes. She completed her postdoctoral training at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA where she completed several research studies investigating the role of nutrition in HIV-associated malignancies in Uganda. She also designed and implemented a nutritional assessment system at the pediatric oncology ward at Uganda Cancer Institute. Zeina is working with SPOON Foundation as a nutrition scientist to design nutrition and feeding assessment and programs in orphanages in several developing countries.

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Charles A. Nelson III, PhD

Dr. Nelson is the Richard David Scott Professor of Pediatric Developmental Medicine Research at Children’s Hospital Boston and Director of Research in the Division of Developmental Medicine. He is also Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience and Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; an affiliate faculty member in the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and a Professor in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health. He serves on the steering committees of both the Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the Harvard Interfaculty Initiative on Mind, Brain, and Behavior. He has been inducted as a Fellow by the American Psychological Society, American Psychological Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; he has also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bucharest (Romania). Recognized internationally as a leader in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, Dr. Nelson has achieved numerous breakthroughs in broadening scientific understanding of brain and behavioral development during infancy and childhood. Over the last two decades, Dr. Nelson has focused his research efforts on the development and neural bases of memory; recognition and processing of objects, faces, and emotion; and neural plasticity. He has a particular interest in how early experience influences the course of development, and in this context has studied both typically developing children and children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. His most recent work focuses on early identification of infants at risk for developing autism, and children experiencing early psychosocial deprivation.

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Kelly R. Walsh, PhD, MBA, RD

Dr. Kelly R. Walsh is the head of Nutrition Science for Mead Johnson Nutrition, North America. He also maintains an adjunct appointment as assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. He received his doctorate in Nutritional Biochemistry from The Ohio State University where he also received his training as a Registered Dietitian. Kelly also earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Evansville. He is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the Canadian Nutrition Society, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association), and the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. Dr. Walsh serves on the editorial board for the Infant Child and Adolescent Nutrition journal and is a peer-reviewer for multiple scientific journals. His current research interests include premature infant nutrition and metabolism, physiology and biochemistry of lactogenesis, and bioavailability of dietary bioactive components. Kelly has authored multiple publications related to bioavailability and metabolism of dietary bioactive components. He is a co-inventor of a multiple premature infant nutritional products.

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