- 17 October 1905
"Cloisters" on the Melbourne University Campus, Victoria, Australia
- 1 April 2008
Hughes, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
- Microbiologist, Dietician, Servicewoman and Lecturer
- Alternative Names
- Osborne, Audrey
Audrey Cahn was the first woman to complete the newly established agriculture degree at the Universty of Melbourne in 1928. Born to parents who were influential scientists themselves, she developed a life long interest in the field of nutritional science and went on to pioneer the academic field of dietetics. Regarded in the 1950s and 60s as a 'soft science' by the then university's head of biochemistry, Victor Trikojus, Cahn fought a long battle for respect, one in which she was eventually supported by major funding bodies such as Nicholas Pty Ltd (Aspro).
Her research output in the field of nutritional biochemistry is well respected. Some of her studies undertaken during her time at the University of Melbourne (1947-68) included examining the physical properties and energy value of common dietary foods, so that she could compile calorie tables. She was an early proponent of the need to reduce fat intake and to substitute polyunsaturated fatty acids for saturated fats. With colleagues in the anatomy department, she participated in a 17-year longitudinal study of "Child Growth in Melbourne (1954-71)". The study was compared with similar studies in the United States and Britain and found that Australian children were overweight and inactive compared with their peers elsewhere.
Cahn enjoyed a very long life, thanks, she said, to a combination of good luck and good genes.