Current areas of focus

Building capacity in low- middle-income countries – developing an online grant proposal writing course

While the incidence of cancer is rapidly increasing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and changing dietary patterns play an important role, grant proposals on nutrition and cancer submitted by LMICs scientists rarely qualify for funding. Working with Wageningen University and a newly formed group of African scientists within the African Nutrition Society (ANS), the aim is to develop an online course to improve grant writing capabilities across Africa in the first instance – as an imperative for the development of a high quality, relevant and context specific research programme in this region.  The course is based on experience of similar courses within Wageningen University and intends to cover various aspects of grant writing such as formulating a research question, designing the most appropriate study, calculating study size, planning and budget, as well as other training skills relevant for grant writing.

A pilot study was conducted early in 2021 as part of Wageningen University’s ongoing distance learning programme, offering a chance to evaluate and refine the course at an early stage. A second pilot study, modified to be sensitive to the African context, is to be offered in West Africa later in 2021, with potentially two further pilots across Africa in 2022.

Nutrition in children, teenagers and young adults (CTYA)

With multiple stakeholders leading and supporting initiatives in research in the area of nutrition and cancer in children, teenagers and young adults (CTYA), ICONIC supports the development of an agreed framework that will help to share current knowledge, identify gaps and set research priorities that together will enhance opportunities for improved care.

Malnutrition poses serious challenges in the management of children throughout their cancer journey, from prior to diagnosis into long‐term survivorship. There is a need to better understand the mechanisms by which poor nutritional state influences the resilience to disease, response to treatment, and outcomes for children with cancer, so that ultimately this knowledge can be incorporated into clinical care and provide individuals and populations with evidence-based guidance.

This area of work was the focus of the first of a series of Virtual Dialogue sessions in 2021, hosted by ICONIC in collaboration with UICC. This brought together experts in the field to share their experience and the group is looking to see how they might work together moving forward and where activities might align.


Hosting a series of Virtual Dialogues in Collaboration with UICC

ICONIC is hosting a series of Virtual Dialogues in collaboration with UICC, with the first a successful Special Focus Dialogue on “Nutrition and cancer in children, teens and young adults – current understanding and future opportunities” in April 2021. Further dates are to be confirmed, but the next in the series is set to focus on prehabilitation within the management and support of those living with cancer.

The sessions are a chance to connect, exchange knowledge, access expert insights and share solutions on respective and common challenges.

WHO guideline development: severe wasting in children aged 6 months and over

In September 2020, ICONIC joined forces with the International Malnutrition Task Force (IMTF) to conduct a preliminary search of the evidence on severe wasting in infants and oedema in children aged six months and over.

This was in response to a call from the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, in collaboration with the Department of Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health and Ageing, to undertake scoping reviews of available evidence in order to propose key questions that the guideline on prevention and treatment on wasting in infants and children would need to address. 

The completed review was presented to the WHO Guideline Development Group in December 2020 and this was an initial step in a formal process of guideline development.

After being asked by WHO in May 2021, initially to undertake a further scoping review on fluid management strategies for infants and children more than six months with moderate or severe wasting or oedema, the ICONIC/IMTF team are now conducting a full systematic review for this research question.