ILSI 2024 Annual Meeting Session 2 – Deep Space Food Challenge

ILSI 2024 Annual Meeting Session 2 – Deep Space Food Challenge: Insights into the Future of Food Production Systems

Monday, January 22, 2024 | 2:00 – 5:10 p.m. 

Co-Chairs: Leila Saldanha, PhD, RD, Independent Scientist, USA and Todd Abraham, PhD, MBA, Senior Vice-President at Mondelēz (Retired), USA

Featuring the following speakers and presentations:

  • Planning for the Ultimate Road Trip: NASA's Innovative Approach to Feeding Future Exploration Crews Ralph Fritsche, Jacobs contractor for NASA and the Centennial Challenges Program for the Deep Space Food Challenge, USA
  • Overview of the Canadian Space Agency's Food Production Initiative Matthew Bamsey, PhD, Manager, Deep Space Food Production (Acting); Lunar Exploration Program, Canadian Space Agency, Canada (remote participation)
  • ESA Space Food Activities Sonja Brungs, PhD, Crew Support Engineer at DLR for European Space Agency, Germany
  • Barbara Belvisi, Founder & CEO at Interstellar Lab, France
  • Food Out of Thin Air – Microbial Protein Production via Gas Fermentation with CO2 and H2 Arttu Luukanen, Senior Vice President, Space and Defense, Solar Foods, Finland

There will be a coffee break during this session from 3:20 – 3:40 p.m.

This session will conclude with all speakers participating in a roundtable discussion moderated by Todd Abraham, PhD, MBA, Senior Vice-President at Mondelēz (Retired), USA.

Leila Saldanha

Leila G. Saldanha, PhD, RD, FAND, Independent Scientist, USA

Dr. Leila Saldanha is a freelance professional specialized in the science, labeling, and communication of dietary supplements and foods. Until recently, she was Senior Nutrition Scientist (contractor) at Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), at the National Institutes of Health. At ODS, Dr. Saldanha served as the subject-matter expert for the NIH’s Dietary Supplements Label Database (DSLD) and the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database (DSID). She facilitated the development of analytic methods through ODS’s Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program and led a cross-agency Federal effort to define and develop approaches to assessing the health effects of bioactive food components. She also co-edited nine issues of the Annual Bibliography of Significant Advances in Dietary Supplement Research, and led the development of vitamin, mineral and nutrient biomarker analytical methodology workshops, and scientific sessions at professional and dietary supplement trade conferences.

Previously, Dr. Saldanha was Vice-President at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a trade organization representing the makers of OTC medicines, dietary supplements and medical devices in Washington, D.C. She also worked for over ten years at the Kellogg Company, starting as Manager Nutrition Communications in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she managed successful partnership programs with Medical and Nutrition groups. Her last position was as Director Nutrition and Scientific Affairs for the Asia-Pacific Region, Sydney, Australia. She moved to Sydney, Australia to work with the Area President to integrate nutrition into the long- and short-term business plans for the region, which included Japan, South Korea, Greater China, India, ASEAN countries, Australia, and New Zealand. Dr. Saldanha’s first full-time job was as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Dietetics Program at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois.

Dr. Saldanha received her graduate degrees in nutrition at Kansas State University. As a graduate student at KSU, she was twice awarded the prestigious merit General Foods Fund Fellowship and Mae Baird Memorial Scholarship. Dr. Saldanha is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and an active professional member of AND and the American Society for Nutrition. She has given numerous talks and authored well over 100 publications. Her current talks and papers have focused on describing dietary supplement products, such as prescription and nonprescription prenatal supplements, their formulations and labeling.


Todd Abraham
Ralph Fritsche
Matthew Bamsey
Sonja Brungs
Barbara Belvisi
Arttu Luukanen