A Brief Overview of the Centre
The award-winning Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research, embedded in the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, is one of UCC’s designated research centres of excellence. These research centres of excellence are known as Research Institutes, Centres and Units (RICUs) and are central to UCC’s strategy for research and innovation. The Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research was formally established as a Small Type RICU in 2016 on foot of the internationally recognized research by the vitamin D group at UCC over the preceding 15 years. The Centre has five full-time academic staff (Professor Kevin Cashman and Professor Mairead Kiely; who act as joint directors, Dr. Alice Lucey, Dr. Elaine McCarthy and Dr. Aine Hennessy) together with its research technical officers, postdoctoral scientists, research assistants, PhD and MSc students (see People below). The Centre’s research activities are entirely funded by external (national and international) research funding.
A key goal of the Centre’s vitamin D research programme has been to deliver excellent science aimed at preventing vitamin D deficiency and protecting the health of Irish and European citizens. Such science is needed to provide the evidence-basis for sound public policy, both nationally and internationally. The specific objectives of the Centre’s vitamin D programme over the last two decades have been:
- Development of state-of-the-art assessment techniques for vitamin D metabolites and dietary modelling.
- Defining status, intake, population deficiency prevalence and health effects of vitamin D.
- Development of food-based strategies for vitamin D deficiency prevention that are agriculturally and economically sustainable.
An additional, and more recent, key goal of the Centre has been the development of food and nutrition system approaches for tackling deficiencies of other micronutrients (i.e., addressing hidden hunger within the population). This includes a focus on micronutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, amongst others.
The on-going achievement of these objectives has been enabled not only via considerable national and international research funding secured in competitive programmes (see Research Projects below) but also, importantly, by establishment of a network of long-standing and successful collaborations to maximize resources and advance scientific knowledge in the area of vitamin D and health. The Centre’s publication output (see Publications below) in terms of quality and quantity has been of an internationally very high standard. The quality of its publications together with the originality of the Centre’s research, its societal significance as well as the innovation and professional standing of the Centre’s scientists were major contributory factors in it being awarded the Irish Laboratory Awards 2019 Academic or Research Laboratory of the Year and Food Laboratory of the Year.