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NMSU Fulbright Scholar To Study Diabetes Treatment in Japan

LAS CRUCES - Nutrition researcher Wanda Eastman with New Mexico State University will gain an international perspective on diabetes treatment as a Fulbright scholar in Japan.

Fulbright scholar Wanda Eastman, a nutrition researcher at New Mexico State University, will study diabetes treatment in Japan and teach courses at Siebold University in Nagasaki. (07/22/2005) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

Eastman departs Aug. 15 for four and a half months in Nagasaki, where she will team-teach a clinical dietetics class and a graduate seminar in nutrition at Siebold University. She will compare Japanese and American medical and nutritional therapy for patients with diabetes, working with hospital dietitians in Nagasaki.

"I'm anticipating new points of view," said Eastman, an associate professor of human nutrition and food science at NMSU since 1992.

Eastman, a certified diabetes educator, has a longtime interest in both diabetes treatment and international research. Her master's and doctoral research projects revolved around diabetes. She has volunteered for 15 years at summer camps for children with diabetes and taught sessions of NMSU's Kitchen Creations cooking schools for people with diabetes and their families.

"Working with people who had diabetes was the first worthwhile thing I did as a dietitian, and it's never stopped being fascinating and important," said Eastman, a registered dietitian. "The most important difference I can make as a dietitian may be in working with people with diabetes."

At NMSU, she advised three graduate students who carried out international diabetes research projects: Dr. Maria Guadalupe Muņoz, a physician in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, who studied gestational diabetes risks; Badriya Abdulla, who studied an increase in type 1 diabetes in Kuwait following the Gulf War; and Lyutha Al-Subhi, who used data on infant birth weight in Oman to plan nutrition education programs.

Eastman applied for a Fulbright award after seeing a flier about the shortage of dietetics professors in Japan at a professional meeting in 2003. She drew inspiration from her husband, Clyde, a retired NMSU rural sociologist who worked in Jordan, Gambia, Paraguay and Peru, and served as an agriculture specialist with the International Voluntary Service, a forerunner of the Peace Corps. He will accompany her to Japan.

Fulbright recipients are chosen based on professional achievement and leadership potential in their fields. Eastman was one of 425 selected from 70,000 members to attend the American Dietetic Association's first leadership institute in Tucson, Ariz., in February 2004.

Her research on pecans' ability to lower bad cholesterol was nationally reported and published in the March 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The eight-week study found that eating three-quarters of a cup of pecans lowered bad (LDL) cholesterol by 6 percent after eight weeks. Participants' total cholesterol dropped as well.

Eastman's previous experience includes teaching at California State University and serving as a research dietitian at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "I'm first, last and always a dietitian," she said.

About 800 U.S. faculty and professionals will study in 140 countries with Fulbright support during the 2005-2006 academic year. The exchange program, administered by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, aims to build understanding between Americans and citizens of other countries. It was created in 1946 through legislation introduced by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.