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Chessa Lutter

Chessa Lutter

Senior Fellow, Food Security & Agriculture


PhD, Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University
MS, Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University
BS, Conservation of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley


Chessa Lutter is a senior nutrition researcher and senior fellow at RTI. Based on more than 30 years working in maternal and child nutrition with the World Health Organization and academic and non-governmental institutions, Dr. Lutter’s research and program expertise have helped shape the public dialogue around breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and the prevention of child undernutrition and obesity through more than 75 scholarly articles, book chapters, and commentaries. She is currently involved with a two-year mix methods longitudinal study to examine factors that influencing acute malnutrition in young children in the arid and semi-arid region of Kenya. 

A major focus of Dr. Lutter’s work has been applying nutrition sciences and epidemiology to improve maternal and child health in low- and middle-income countries. She is currently supporting the USAID Nawiri project to reduce persistent acute malnutrition in Kenya and the USAID project “Enhancing Nutrition, Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning in the Health Sector in USAID Nutrition Priority and Strategic Support Countries. 

Dr. Lutter serves on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline development group to develop a guideline for the integrated management of children in all their diversity with obesity. She also recently worked with the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety at WHO to develop a Guideline for complementary feeding of infants and young children 6 to 23 months of age. She also serves on the Design, Analyze, and Communicate (DAC) review board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

She joined RTI in 2017 after 19 years with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization’s regional office for the Americas. At PAHO, Dr. Lutter worked with Ministries of Health throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as well as with UNICEF, the World Food Program, and numerous nongovernmental organizations to implement programs and policies aimed at preventing obesity, promoting breastfeeding, and ensuring good nutrition for mothers, infants, and children.

Dr. Lutter’s background also includes positions with Wellstart International and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She is a member of the American Society of Nutrition, the Global Nutrition Council, and the International Union of Nutritional Scientists. A skilled communicator, Dr. Lutter has prepared television and radio briefings on maternal and child nutrition in English and Spanish and frequently speaks at events worldwide.

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