In my family, as everywhere in Greece, cooking and eating is not just part of our daily routine but a ceremony, an essential element of our culture. The preparation of our Sunday family lunch, with the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen, was I guess my entry into nutrition. Watching closely my mother and aunts cooking and discussing about which ingredient or spice could have made the food even tastier was my initiation to cooking. This ritual was a valuable experience and my first classes on the value of nutrition at the same time.
That was the reason why I decided to study chemistry. I was interested in going deep into the secrets of food science. While waiting for my MSc course on human nutrition to begin, I worked as an interviewer in the Greek part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC), a cohort study collecting dietary data all over the country. That is when I was first exposed to nutritional epidemiology and related fieldwork, an experience I cherish and frequently recall particularly when I am analysing data.
Early in my professional life, I was lucky enough to follow the setting up of the largest cohort study on diet and chronic diseases ever undertaken in my country. I also had the privilege of being educated by two Greek scientists, internationally recognised leaders in the field of the role of diet in disease prevention and of Mediterranean diet in particular. Currently as a member of the faculty of the University of Athens Medical School, I am working towards the inclusion of courses on nutritional epidemiology and public health nutrition in the curriculum of the Athens Medical School, addressing health professionals and biostatisticians. My research interests relate to diet and physical activity as preventive forces behind the development of chronic morbidity and how this knowledge could be conveyed to the general public. My great ambition is the undertaking of a Greek national nutrition survey, whereas my dream is to persuade Greek politicians of the necessity of such a data collection on a regular basis.