Veldsman wins massive grant

Namibian-born Lizl Veldsman recently won a research grant that allows her to further build on her research project and studies in South Africa.

13 September 2019 | Business

Mariselle Stofberg

Fresenius Kabi recently announced that Namibian-born Lizl Veldsman (35) is the winner of the JUMPstart research grant.

The grant was awarded at the 41st European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ESPEN) congress in Krakow, Poland.

The €250 000 (about N$4 million) grant will build and strengthen evidence-based knowledge around parenteral nutrition in critically ill patients, improving care for this vulnerable group.

Fresenius Kabi, one of the global market leaders in clinical nutrition, developed the JUMPstart programme to improve the research skills of young healthcare professionals and provide them with the opportunity to apply for grant support for their research ideas.

Veldsman was among 19 young researchers from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America who took part in the first edition of the JUMPstart programme.

This group included clinicians, dieticians, pharmacists and researchers, who are all experts in the field of critical care.

Veldsman was born and raised in Windhoek and matriculated from Windhoek High School in 2002.

She graduated cum laude from Stellenbosch University in 2007 with her BSc Dietetics degree.

“I started my career as a clinical dietician at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, formerly known as the Johannesburg General Hospital, where I worked as a clinical dietician in their medical/surgical ICU for almost nine years. During this time I also completed my master’s of nutrition degree, also cum laude, through Stellenbosch University.”

It was during her time at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital where she became attentive to the importance of nutrition in critically ill patients, and undertook her first ICU research project as part of her master’s degree by comparing patients' actual nutrient intake with their actual needs.

“Building on the findings from this study, my new proposed research study will aim to determine the effect of additional protein supplementation and mobilisation (exercise) on the preservation of muscle mass in critically ill patients. Ultimately this may help improve their functional recovery and quality of life, long after their ICU stay,” Veldsman added.

The study will be done at the Tygerberg Hospital in South Africa.

This grant will allow Veldsman to further build on her study and provides much-needed financial support.

“Undertaking a big research study like this requires a highly skilled research team of dieticians, critical care doctors or intensivists, physiotherapists and physiologists, along with the appropriate equipment and resources, in order to measure the given outcome parameters accurately and timeously.

“Getting adequate funding is often difficult, therefore I am grateful for the JUMPstart grant, which enables me to realise this research study,” Veldsman said.

She is planning to register the research study as part of her PhD, through Stellenbosch University, and if all goes well, she will commence with data collection in 2020.

The independent JUMPstart research committee responsible for the research training during the programme and the selection of the winner included Mette Berger from Switzerland, Olav Rooyackers from Sweden, Robert Martindale from the United States, Ho-Seong Han from South Korea and Tim Friede from Germany.

“With this grant we are supporting the next generation of researchers, who will contribute to improve the nutritional care of critically ill patients,” explained Dr Matthias Tyssen of Fresenius Kabi.

Veldsman was completely in awe when she was announced as the winner.

“Firstly I was totally blown away! Although I did put a lot of preparation into the research proposal, I was still amazed by the size of the grant and the opportunity it provides for doing a large-scale clinical nutrition trial like this on home-ground. All in all, I am truly honoured being the recipient of this amazing research grant,” she said.

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