From protein to cardiometabolic health and lifestage nutrition, there is a lot to learn about the role of eggs in human health.
The Egg Nutrition Center’s competitive research grant program was created for the purpose of advancing the understanding of the nutritional value of eggs and egg-related nutrients in the human diet. Without this grant program, there would be little research examining egg consumption with respect to human health [see summary on “The Role of Farmer Funded Applied Nutrition Research”].
The ENC grant process uses an approach that is similar to the process used by the National Institutes of Health, but substantially smaller in scale. As with the NIH, priorities are identified and posted publicly; grant proposals are sought and selected based on these priority areas; a panel of expert scientists is used to review the scientific merit of each proposal; and funds are ultimately allocated to technically astute proposals that would advance the understanding of eggs and human health. The study design, conduct, and interpretation all reside with the investigator, and ENC highly encourages publication of all research, regardless of whether the results are favorable to eggs. Throughout the process, ENC applies the principles of the International Life Sciences Institute, North American working group on conflicts of interest and scientific integrity.
Priorities: PhD scientist experts at the Egg Nutrition Center are responsible for staying informed about the overall nutrition environment and knowledge gaps in our understanding of the relationship between egg consumption and components of eggs (nutrients and other components) as they relate to human health. Based on these factors, priority areas for research are presented to the scientific community via the ENC website and electronic notifications.
Grant submissions: Proposals are accepted through a two-step process. First, a two-page letter of intent (LOI) summarizing the scope, duration, and estimated budget for the study. LOIs that address stated priorities with a sound hypothesis and appropriate study design are invited to submit a detailed grant application justifying the scientific approach and outlining the methodology.
Grant reviews: A scientific panel of external experts from the fields of clinical nutrition, epidemiology, physiology, and food science review each grant application. As part of their review, they consider whether the proposed research makes an important contribution to knowledge, is well designed scientifically, and is feasible to conduct by the proposing research team for the requested budget. Based on these reviews, available funds are allocated across a portfolio of projects identified as quality research addressing important questions with relevance to eggs and human health.
Funding: Funds are provided to grantees and research is conducted according to the principles that govern research at their institution (which includes meeting a wide range of ethical practices, regulations, and laws), and furthermore according to criteria needed to successfully publish findings in credible nutrition journals and consistent with the ILSI –NA statement on “Funding food science and nutrition research: financial conflicts and scientific integrity.” [Also, see summary of ENC integrity guidelines.]
Reporting and Publishing: Progress reports are submitted to ENC on a semi-annual basis according to a specified format. Final results are submitted to ENC in the form of a peer-reviewed journal article and if the investigators have not done so prior, ENC highly encourages submission to a journal. This means that the research will be reviewed by another set of experts prior to acceptance for publication. Additionally, most credible journals now require that clinical trials register protocols in advance of the study in a public database to ensure that the study was conducted and analyzed per the protocol planned and not revised in post hoc analyses unless explicitly described as such. Most researchers also present their findings at scientific meetings as a way to get feedback from peers who often comment on how results might be interpreted based on findings from other studies. This process of presenting and publishing research is key to advancing the understanding of the role of eggs in human health. It can even lead to another research question that can be answered in a future grant cycle.
If you are interested in ENC funded projects, there are several resources available, including a quarterly newsletter available on the internet and by email, as well as this blog which summarizes research funded by ENC as well as others.
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