Alumni Profiles: Professor Jeya Henry and Rina Quek

Professor Jeya Henry (MSc Human Nutrition, 1980 and PhD Human Nutrition, 1983) and Rina Quek (MSc in Nutrition for Global Health, 2017) are two different generations of LSHTM graduates. Here they share their stories, and we asked them about their memories of LSHTM, the roles they have undertaken since leaving our School, and their experience of the pandemic.
Prof Henry and Rina Quek

Professor Henry explains how he and Rina Quek met:

I am deeply grateful for the education received at LSHTM. It provided me with considerable skills to partake in human nutrition activities across the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia. This led me to be appointed as the Director of Clinical Nutrition Research Centre, A*STAR in Singapore, in 2011. I met Rina Quek, a Singaporean research officer who showed a keen interest in human nutrition. I persuaded her to pursue the MSc in Nutrition for Global Health (2016-2017). Thus, we represent two generations of scientists connected with LSHTM. We are proud of the association with the School and continue to maintain an umbilical link with graduates from all over the world.

What are your stand-out memories from LSHTM?

Professor Henry: My outstanding memories of the school School were the amazingly diverse students in my cohort, the incredible intellectual prowess of all the staff that taught me, and the unconditional mentorship I received.

Rina Quek: My stint at LSHTM was a place where I met a diverse range of schoolmates from all over the world. The mentorship from the lecturers, the culture and environment the School provided enabled me to push my horizons of knowledge. It made me realise that I can achieve the impossible.

Please share your greatest achievements.

Professor Henry: My greatest achievement was to proselytise the importance of nutrition in human health worldwide. Secondly, to seed and mentor hundreds of researchers all over the world to embrace nutrition as an imperative for global health and well-being.

Rina Quek: As a Singaporean coming back to a nation that is slowly embracing nutrition, I now see myself as an agent of change for my present and future generation.

Please describe your current roles.

Professor Henry: My current role as a Director at the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC) in Singapore is to lead a 60-strong research team that focuses on providing evidence-based science for the adage: ‘can food be the new medicine’. My second role as the Senior Advisor at the Singapore Institute of Food Biotechnology and Innovation (SIFBI) is to provide strategic advice on food and nutrition within Singapore and globally.

Rina Quek: As a Senior Research Officer at the CNRC embedded within the SIFBI, I undertake cutting edge research relevant to Singapore and translate my research into Public Health communications. I also develop foods with health-enhancing properties using underutilised or novel regional food ingredients.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you?

Professor Henry: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected me in two ways. Firstly, it has made me realise that we live in an interdependent world. Secondly, I have become even more aware of how resilient each country must be in their food security. COVID-19, therefore, has been a personal wake up call to realise the importance food and nutrition play in our lives.

Rina Quek: The pandemic served as a timely reminder about how critical nutrition is in both the treatment and management of COVID-19. While COVID-19 has impeded the recruitment of volunteers for clinical trials, it gave me time to reflect while working from home on other important reviews.

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