Director, ICMR-NIN, Dr.Hemalatha’s research interests encompass maternal, child health and nutrition. She has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, book chapters and regulatory reports. Her research efforts have generated vital information on the impact of inflammation and lower reproductive tract infections on fetal growth and also showed amelioration of local and systemic inflammation with Lactobacilli preparations in community settings. She has worked extensively on nutrition status and immunity in women and children, and has carried out basic studies to support her clinical findings and demonstrated the role of nutrition and gut bacteria on endotoxemia, Inflammation, insulin resistance and lipid profile. Recently, she developed a “Preconception education kit” that informs newly married couples and their family members on how to ensure good nutrition and health of the women in preparation of pregnancy. Preconception kit addresses risks like undernutrition, anemia, malnutrition, physical activity and appropriate age, which are all essential to improve birth outcomes and health of the baby.
Dr.Hemalatha led the seminal work on Nutrient requirements- the RDAs and EARs for Indians; for the first time the Nutrient recommendations include the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) and also the Tolerable Upper Limits (TUL) of nutrients alongside RDAs. The fortification strategies, food labelling, supplementation programs are based on these recommendations. She also spearheaded ‘My Plate for the Day’ which provides food-based guidelines for meeting micro and macronutrient requirements to prevent undernutrition and NCDs. As part of the Poshan Abhiyan initiative she developed 14 E-learning modules aimed at empowering adolescents, young adults, Anganwadi teachers, ASHA workers and the general public. The report- ‘What India Eats’, for the first time gives details of Regional Dietary Pattern of Indian Population and energy and protein sources from different food groups in graphical form. Under her leadership, Nutrition Surveillance System was launched in 6 states through the Anganwadi centers of the ICDS, which tracks nutrition status of children under the ICDS program on a real-time basis.
Dr.Hemalatha is presently the President of the Nutrition Society of India and Executive Council Member of the Federation of Asian Nutrition Societies (FANS). She is also an Expert Member of various task force committees of the Ministries- WCD, HFW, FSSAI, CODEX India, BIS, Inter Ministerial Central Team for COVID, National Technical Board on Nutrition and National Council of Nutrition of NITI Aayog to name a few.
Dr.Hemalatha graduated (MBBS) and obtained an MD from Gandhi Medical College, Hyderabad, Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Andhra Pradesh. She has been honoured with various awards, including the Young Scientist Award, Ponduri Venkata Ramana Rao Gold Medal for MD, 7th Dr.Rajammal P. Devadas Memorial Oration Award, Dr.KamlaPuri Sabharwal Memorial Award, Change Maker Award and Prof. M. Viswanathan Gold Medal Oration Award. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, International Union of Nutrition Sciences and Telangana Academy of Sciences. After taking over as Director of ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition, the Institute received the prestigious award for Excellence in Nutrition Science & Technology - POSHAN Outlook Award.