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LAND Committee

Dr. Nahla Hwalla, President

Dr. Nahla Hwalla is Professor of Human Nutrition and Registered Dietitian (RD) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, USA. She also serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at AUB.

In administration and education, Dr. Hwalla has established the profession of dietetics as a highly recognized and respected occupation in Lebanon and the Middle East. She prepared, submitted and eventually gained approval for a decree to recognize Dietetics as a protected profession in Lebanon, with the help of the Ministry of Public Health. Dr. Hwalla has secured international recognition for the undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics program at AUB from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, USA in November 2013. This program is the 1st nutrition program in the Middle East and the 3rd international program to obtain this accreditation.

In research, the focus of Dr. Hwalla’s publications has been on obesity from an epidemiological and clinical perspective. She has published extensively in the area of obesity in relation to its prevalence, dietary and socioeconomic determinants, appetite hormones, and its association with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, in international peer-reviewed high impact factor journals. She provided Lebanon with the 1st and 2nd national studies on obesity.

Dr. Hwalla has received local support from the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) to establish the first country wide Associated Research Unit for Under-nutrition and Obesity followed by another for Nutrition and Non-communicable Diseases. She has also received extensive funding for her research from international agencies, such as World Health Organization (WHO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In outreach, Dr. Hwalla has attended, as invited speaker, several regional and international forums to present her research findings. She has also been involved in the national and regional strategic planning for nutrition, in building capacity for food security nationally and regionally, and in empowering AUB faculty. In addition, she has recently developed Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) for the Lebanese population which have been adopted by the Ministry of Public Health and CNRS. Dr. Hwalla has also provided Lebanon with the 1st Country Profile on Nutrition and established the 1st NGO for nutritionists in Lebanon and the region, the Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics (LAND).

In recognition, Dr. Hwalla has served on various international expert committees and was appointed by the Director General of WHO to serve on the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Nutrition. She is also the Director of the Lebanon WHO Collaborating Center on Nutrition. Dr. Hwalla received international recognition by being elected as Fellow of International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) in 2009, and was the first IUNS member from the Middle East to receive this recognition. She also received the Lebanese CNRS Distinguished Researcher Award in 2012.

Sally Sawaya, Vice President

Sally Sawaya is a Licensed Dietitian who graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB). She earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S) in 1996 and Masters of Science (M.Sc) in 1998. After that, she accomplished her one-year internship at the AUB-Medical Center.

She worked in various medical companies then became a Corporate Nutrition Specialist for Nestle Middle East. Her specialty is nutrition research and communication (website, magazines, booklets…), carrying out nutrition trainings and performing nutrition awareness campaigns on TV and Radio.

In parallel to all that, she worked as a Nutrition Consultant/Dietitian and now after 15 years of experience, she started her own nutrition consulting company, Sally’s Diet Rite.

Sawsan Wazzan

Sawsan Wazzan Jabri born May 1959 graduated with a MS degree in Nutrition from AUB (1981); Married to Rifaat Jabri graduate of MS Food Technology from AUB (1981); and a mother of 4 children.

She and her husband were pioneers in establishing the Nutrition and Diet Center (1990) which was the 1st of its kind in the Middle East dedicated to the nutritional health of the population. The center is divided in to Clinics, Production kitchen, Retail shops, and Delivery system.

The center’s success lead to the largest franchise in Saudi Arabia 1996 (Riyadh, Jeddah, Khobar) which serves more than 5,000 clients daily and franchises in Kuwait 2002, and in Qatar 2004.

Diet Center’s successes in Lebanon lead to the opening of branches in Kornet Chehwan and in Zahle 2012.

Mrs. Sawsan’s activities have broadened to include awareness for the whole community through media and reality TV programs such as Star Academy (LBC), Superstar (Future), Beauty Clinic (Future), Biggest Loser (MBC), and Mission Fashion (LBC 2008). Awareness was also spread at summer camps, schools, seminars, and conferences. Other activities include joint ventures with 5 star hotels, schools, restaurants, and Middle East Airlines. In 2010, Sawsan launched her own Radio show مع أطيب تحيات سوسن which airs every Friday on Voice of Lebanon.

Several universities including AUB, USEK, and Lebanese university also joined activities with the Diet Center at its premises for an applied internship program in dietetics and food service.

Most recently, Sawsan developed the Diet Center Approach to Student Health in 2010 and has been involved in initiating health awareness at schools through an extensive program involving:
  1. Teaching students the basics of nutrition through lessons integrated in their curriculum
  2. Undergoing anthropometric screening to assess prevalence of overweight & obesity at the school
  3. Catering healthy meals to meet students’ daily nutrient needs
  4. Educating staff of importance of nutrition
  5. Spreading nutrition awareness through Activities throughout the year
  6. Intervening to manage overweight and obesity

Sawsan is currently the Co-Owner and Executive Director of the franchising company headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. She is also supervising all nutritional and food service activities in all countries as part of the franchise agreement.

She is a board member of the executive committee for the Lebanese Academy for Nutrition & Dietetics (LAND), a board member of the advisory board of the school of Agriculture & Food Science at AUB, a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, & Agriculture of Beirut & Mount Lebanon, a board member of دار الأيتام الإسلامية , and the vice president of the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB). 

Sawsan has been granted several prestigious awards throughout her career:
  1. In 2002, and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the “Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science”, the American University of Beirut honored Mrs. Jabri and presented her with an award for outstanding accomplishment; In 2007 they also awarded her for bringing excellence to dietitians.
  2. In 2007, under the patronage of H.H. the prime minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Sawsan received an award for Lebanese leader and “moubdi3a” on the basis of entrepreneurship and creativity by H.E. Mrs. Bahia Hariri, during the third economic businesswomen forum titled “global entrepreneurs”.
  3. In 2010, Sawsan was honored by Ajialouna Association and received the award of أمهات مميزات من لبنان Special Mothers in Lebanon which is an award dedicated to prominent Lebanese mothers who managed to succeed in their careers and their roles as mothers as well.
  4. Also in 2010, she was selected among the “Women Achievers in Hospitality” during the 2010 Hospitality Annual Awards Ceremony.

Abir Barhoumi

Abir Noureddine Barhoumi is a holder of BSc in Nutrition and Food Sciences and MSc in Food Technology from AUB. She is a Legislated Dietitian and currently holds the position of Assistant Director of Clinical Nutrition at AUBMC. In addition she is in charge of Pediatric/Neonatal Nutrition with emphasis in Inborn Errors of Metabolism. She is involved in clinical research at AUBMC with the department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and is an active member in several medical/clinical groups. Over the past five years she joined as an Instructor in Nutrition and Dietetics at FAFS-AUB.

Dr. Maya Bassil

Dr. Maya Bassil is an assistant professor of Nutrition at the department of Natural Sciences at the Lebanese American University (LAU). Dr. Bassil has a PhD in Human Nutrition from McGill University, Canada and a BS & MS in Nutrition from the American University of Beirut (AUB). In addition to teaching and administrative tasks, Dr. Bassil is actively involved in Nutrition research on both animal models and human subjects. Her principle line of research is directed towards macronutrient and micronutrient metabolism and the association with appetite, obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In addition, Dr. Bassil is a licensed dietitian in Lebanon; she has completed an 11-month dietetic internship at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. She is also an active member of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the Canadian Society of Clinical Nutritionists (CSCN) since 2009.

Dima Timani

Graduate in nutrition and dietetics from the American University of Beirut in 1996. She has been working at the Chronic Care Center since 2003, in the nutritional management of patients with type 1 Diabetes, as well as Thalassemia (major), helping the affected youth to liberalize their diets; supporting them in learning more about a healthy diet and empowering them to become autonomous decision makers in their daily life, particularly in the nutritional management of diabetes, aiming towards improving quality of life and preventing long-term complications.

Krystel Ouajian

Krystel Ouaijan is a senior instructor in the dietary department of Saint George Hospital. She is coordinating the dietetic internship and also serves as a dietitian specialized in nutrition support in the intensive care unit. Furthermore she is developing nutrition clinical protocols and conducting clinical research concerning malnutrition in the hospital. She has also been teaching two undergraduate courses “Therapeutic Nutrition” in the University of Balamand. Krystel is an active member of the European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and is pursuing her European Diploma in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. Prior joining Saint George Hospital, she followed the BS and MS in Nutrition at the American University of Beirut and worked there as graduate assistant. She has done her dietetic internship in the American University of Beirut Medical Center in addition to specialized training in Addenbrook’s Cambridge University Hospital, UK.