Many congratulations are due to Dr Mary Penny, Director General of the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (IIN) in Lima, who has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty The Queen in this year’s Birthday Honours. The Honours list was published on 15 June. Dr Penny’s award was made in recognition of her contribution to scientific research in nutrition and health in Peru and in developing countries.
Dr Penny has been the Director General of the IIN for the past 13 years and has worked with the institute for 28 years. The award reflects her commitment over more than a quarter of a century to searching for solutions for the serious problems of underprivileged populations in Peru through improving the health and nutrition of the poor, promoting changes in medical and health policies, and leading and encouraging pro-poor medical research and health policies in Peru.
The IIN is a not-for-profit Peruvian institution that today employs around 80 people in Peru, on projects and in field centres. Dr Penny’s dedication to her work has helped her to build up and inspire a committed group of professionals and field workers, most of them operating from the centre in La Molina and in deprived communities like Canto Grande, one of the poorest Lima suburbs, as well as amongst other urban and rural poor populations of the country. Her award recognises the important contribution she has made to nutritional and health sciences, both through her own work and through encouraging others to develop their ideas and research.
Dr Penny studied at Cambridge University and completed her medical studies at Birmingham University. She was a senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics in Oxford before moving to Peru in 1984 on a Wellcome Trust Scholarship to work with researchers at the IIN.
Dr Penny is also co-leader of the Peruvian chapter of the British Government sponsored “Young Lives” project that is being carried out in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam over the period 2001-17 to study different aspects of the lives of children growing up in poverty to improve policy and programmes for children.