Mulubirhan Assefa Alemayohu: How diet can benefit lung function against Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease INVITE Blog

Here we have Mulubirhan Assefa Alemayohu presenting his results in research on how diet can benefit lung function against Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

I have been investigating the association of dietary flavonoid intake with lung function outcomes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

In preventive medicine, having a detailed understanding of disease burden and its key risk factors is a paramount to design an effective prevention and control measures.

From our scientific literature review, we highlighted the inconsistency of epidemiological findings on the risk factors of COPD. Our findings – using a data from a multinational survey Burden of Lung Disease (BOLD) study – show a promising result that will improve our understanding on dietary flavonoid intake and their benefits on lung function and respiratory outcomes.

We have also investigated that to what extent international flavonoid food composition tables vary on flavonoid content of selected foods, which has significant contribution in reducing inconsistencies in the associations of flavonoids and health outcomes.

This will help address the knowledge gap on the risk factors of COPD that provide clues to understand the determinants for the prevention of the disease; and insight into the effective management of health-care resources. Subsequently, this will contribute to the sustainable development goal of reducing the mortality from non-communicable diseases by 30% by the year 2030.

My success so far

I have been named among the Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Finalist that recognize the research I presented at NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE from more than 1,000 abstracts submitted by students and postdoctoral fellows.

Following this, the Center for Human Nutrition of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore, USA) also recognized my research achievement by awarding the Barbara and Richard Hall Student Award for Excellence in Nutrition Science.

Previously, I had won a mobility grant from the University of Verona and I have been participated in national and international conferences as session chair, presenter, and participants.

Doing research while your country is in war

Three years ago, I have joined University of Verona’s INVITE programme as among the fourteen young and talented international fellows.

The atmosphere of research life under INVITE has dramatically changed due to the genocidal war waged on Tigray, the country where I come from. Do I have to continue my PhD or to join the resistance army to liberate my people? It was difficult for me to decide, but it was a question of survival. Anyone can imagine how it is hard to be mentally stable without hearing from your mother and your family for more than a year. Then, INVITE’s research journey has been continued in the scene of genocide for the past twenty months.

Importantly, the INVITE programme – through its coaching and counselling programme – has provided me the opportunity to learn how to cope with genocidal war and its trauma.