Kruse Awards in Human Nutrition
New Research-to-Policy Achievement Award honors alumna's contributions to translating nutrition science into programs that protect population health
“DON'T BELIEVE THE DOUBTERS who claim that high salt intake doesn't pose serious health risks" was the take-home message from Mary E. Cogswell, RN, DrPH '92, the first recipient of the Kruse Research-to-Policy Alumni Achievement Award. Cogswell's presentation was the keynote at the inagural awards ceremony on April 21, 2015 to recognize recipients of the Kruse Awards in Human Nutrition.
Cogswell is a crusader for reducing salt in the face of mounting opposition from some scientists, who insist that the risk of salt has been exaggerated. With the alacrity of a hibachi chef, Cogswell made mincemeat of the naysayers, eviscerating their poor methodology and inability to separate confounding factors from the real culprit: salt.
In the U.S., cardiovascular disease causes 1 of every 3 deaths, of which 41 percent are attributable to high blood pressure and 14 percent are attributable to an unhealthy diet. Excess sodium intake influences both these risk factors, and unfortunately, Cogswell warned, nearly all Americans ingest far more than the recommended 1500 mg per day—most of it through processed foods and restaurant meals.
Since there is very solid evidence that lowering sodium intake reduces high blood pressure, achieving a reduction of 400 mg of sodium per day across the whole population would save 28,000 deaths and $7 billion yearly!
Cogswell is only the latest among dozens of students and alumni in the Program in Human Nutrition who have earned recognition for their achievements. The Harry D. Kruse Fellowship in Nutrition funds doctoral students and the Harry D. Kruse Publication Award in Human Nutrition honors peer-reviewed papers published by enrolled doctoral or master's degree students. The program is directed by Keith P. West, DrPH '86, Professor of International Health and head of the Center for Human Nutrition.
Cogswell, a senior CDC scientist in the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, is a proud product of the Bloomberg School, where she earned an MPH in health services research and a DrPH in nutritional epidemiology. She received a Kruse Fellowship as a doctoral student and has gone on to author more than 100 peer-reviewed publications as a national and international authority on nutrition, cardiovascular disease, and the value of sodium reduction for promoting health and preventing disease. In addition to West, who was her doctoral adviser, Cogswell said that the School faculty who inspired and supported her most were Laura Caulfield, David Paige, MPH '69, Benjamin Caballero and Karen Bandeen-Roche.
“In human nutrition, environmental and policy changes are more effective than individual behavior change.”
—Mary E. Cogswell, RN, DrPH '92
All of the Kruse Awards were made possible by the generosity of the Kruse family in honor of Harry D. Kruse, ScD '26, a School alumnus and faculty member in Biochemistry who later held influential posts in New York City government. Kruse's 1926 dissertation is one of the earliest studies of the chemical properties of vitamin B, and he became a renowned expert on nutritional deficiencies.
Harry's son, Douglas C. Kruse, is an adviser on financial sector policy to governments, banks and international financial institutions in more than 40 countries. In the early 1980s, while working as an international economist for the U.S. Treasury, Kruse was a faculty member in the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. Douglas's wife, Betty A. Whelchel, is general counsel for BNPParibas North America and was previously an attorney at Deutsche Bank, Shearman & Sterling and the U.S. Treasury.
For more information on the Kruse Nutrition Awards event, see the Department of International Health's web article.
To learn more about endowed scholarships and other giving opportunities, please contact Heath Elliott, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations, at 410-502-5275.