In Memoriam

Former ASSAf General Secretary, Prof Hester (Esté) Vorster, a South African nutrition champion, passed away on 23 June 2020.

Prof Vorster was Director of the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition in the Faculty of Health Sciences of the North-West University (NWU) and started nutrition research at NWU in the 1980s. She conceptualised nutrition as a multidisciplinary domain, from molecules to society, and pioneered research and infrastructure development to address malnutrition problems in Africa on basic (molecular and genetic), clinical and epidemiological levels. She was internationally recognised for her work on the role of dietary fibre in health, the relationship between diet and blood coagulation, and her contribution to understanding the nutrition transition and its determinants and consequences in Africa. A dedicated capacity builder and initiator of research, Prof Vorster supervised many PhD and MSc students and published widely, including more than 300 research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, books, chapters in books, editorials and research reports.

She received many awards recognising her value-driven contribution as a thought leader and transdisciplinary thinker. These included a B1-rating from the National Research Foundation, the Nutrition Society of South Africa’s (NSSA) award for ‘Outstanding Contributions to Nutrition Research’, the prestigious Havenga Medalje vir Geneeskunde for scientific outputs in Medical Sciences from Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, and the African Nutrition Society Nevin Scrimshaw award for ‘Vision and leadership in nutrition training and service to international nutrition’.

She was a Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), elected for rendering outstanding service to the cause of nutrition. She served as consultant and scientific advisor to the South African National Department of Health, as well as to international agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), FAO, CODEX Alimentarius and UNICEF.