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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Leading bone health expert to present URI nutrition lecture April 19

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Lecture series funded by Providence alumnus’ donation in wife’s memory

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 7, 2005 -- Bess Dawson-Hughes, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine and a national expert on the causes and prevention of bone disease, will present the second Rita Mainelli Lecture in Nutrition at the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday, April 19 at 5 p.m. A reception will be held prior to the lecture at 4:30 p.m.

The lecture, “Vitamin D and Musculo-Skeletal Health,” will be held in the Galanti Lounge in the University Library on URI’s Kingston Campus. It is free and open to the public.

“In light of the increasing concern about osteoporosis and the recent revelations about the importance of vitamin D to bone health, this is an extremely timely and important topic,” said Marjorie Caldwell, chair of the URI Department of Food Science and Nutrition.

In addition to her academic appointment, Dawson-Hughes is senior scientist and director of the Bone Metabolism Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts. She is president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and conducts research on the environmental and genetic determinants of bone mass and fractures.

The lecture is funded by URI alumnus Domenic Mainelli of Providence, whose donation in his late wife’s name established the Rita Mainelli Lectures in Nutrition. The first Mainelli lecture was held last fall.

“My wife graduated in the URI class of 1947 with a degree in home economics, which at the time was almost like a pre-med course,” said Mainelli. “She had to take engineering physics, comparative analysis and many other difficult science and nutrition courses that prepared her to be a great teacher in her own way.”

After graduating from URI, Mrs. Mainelli worked for Beechnut Foods educating new mothers about infant nutrition. She later was employed by Narragansett Electric Co. where she taught healthful cooking to local residents purchasing their first electric stoves. She died in 2000.

“I chose to establish this lecture series to memorialize my wife and to benefit current students,” said Mainelli. “She felt that nutrition education was very important, so I know a nutrition lecture series would be something she would be proud of. I look forward to helping to fund additional lectures in the future.”

“The department is grateful to Mr. Mainelli and his family for funding this seminar series,” said Caldwell. “It affords the department and members of the community the opportunity to hear internationally recognized scientists discuss their current research relating nutrition to human health.”

For additional information about the lecture, call the URI Department of Food Science and Nutrition at 401-874-2253.