Programme Director Measurement and Surveys and Dietary Assessment Lead
Innovation in the Measurement of Diet, Physical Activity and Nutrition, NIHR Cambridge BRC Dietary Assessment Platform
Current work and interests
As Programme Director for measurement and surveys, Polly is responsible for setting up and leading a coordinated platform for the measurement of diet, anthropometry, physical activity and nutritional biomarkers. She leads the NIHR Cambridge BRC Dietary Assessment platform, part of the NIHR Cambridge BRC Measurement Platform. Funded through the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, the overall purpose of the Platform is to connect developments and innovations in measurement to routine research delivery and application, and to provide expertise and capacity in these specialist areas, supporting multiple groups working in the UK and internationally.
Polly is also Co-Director for the government funded National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme for which the MRC Epidemiology Unit is the scientific lead. A major focus of Polly’s work is on the development and implementation of more automated measurement methods. Key projects include updating the dietary assessment method in the NDNS from a paper-based diary to an online dietary recall and implementation of an online dietary recall system in a 5 country study in south Asia.
Background and experience
Polly has led and overseen delivery of large-scale biomedical surveys and studies for more than 10 years and has been the Cambridge NDNS lead since 2010. She formally joined the MRC Epidemiology Unit as Programme Director for measurement and surveys in January 2019. Over the three preceding years, Polly worked closely with the Epidemiology Unit as a visiting member of staff to successfully tender for the NDNS third funding wave (2018-2023) on behalf of the University with Field partner, NatCen Social Research and then to lead the migration of NDNS and related scientific capabilities (including dietary assessment and nutritional biomarkers) from their former home at the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (EWL, previously called MRC Human Nutrition Research, HNR) which closed at the end of 2018.
Prior to joining the University, Polly worked at the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (formerly MRC Human Nutrition Research), where her most recent role was head of nutrition surveys and studies and lead for scientific operations and governance. Before moving to Cambridge, she spent a number of years overseas as a management and development advisor to a national eye care facility in Nepal. Polly has a BSc Hons degree in Psychology from Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London and after graduating worked for 10 years in South London leading and managing volunteer-provided centre-based and community services for people living with HIV and AIDS, their families and carers.