Five-year-old graduate nutrition

program is nation's third best

The Graduate Program in Nutrition and Health Sciences at Emory ranks third in the nation among graduate nutrition programs, according to the 1996 edition of The Gourman Report (7th Edition, National Education Standards, Los Angeles). The program is part of the Nutrition and Health Sciences Center at Emory.

"It is remarkable that this program has been ranked this highly after only five years in existence," said Program Director Alfred Merrill Jr. "This is probably due to the widespread recognition that modern nutrition research must encompass both basic and applied sciences." Emory's program includes faculty from basic science and clinical departments in the School of Medicine (strongly represented by the departments of Biochemistry and Medicine); from epidemiology, international health and behavioral sciences in the School of Public Health; from the Department of Anthropology at Emory College; and from several divisions of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Our students also benefit from interactions with the national headquarters of The American Cancer Society, C.A.R.E. and the International Life Sciences Institute," said Merrill.

The program was begun in 1992 to prepare nutritional scientists who will be able to discover new relationships between diet and disease and apply this knowledge to improve health through dietary and behavioral changes. Doctoral students are rigorously exposed to nutrition from a variety of perspectives so that they are not only knowledgeable in a specialized area, but conversant in other fields as well.

Michael Johns, executive vice president for Health Affairs, said the program is "an example of how the health sciences center and the community can work together to achieve excellence."

The program currently has 15 students and has been awarded a highly competitive training grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Graduate research projects include: how genetics, diet and exercise affect lipoprotein metabolism and heart disease; the molecular basis for gene damage and repair, particularly as they relate to the prevention of cancer; how diet, exercise and body composition contribute to differences in disease incidence among racial and ethnic groups; the impact of malnutrition in early life on mental development and health as well as how this affects the economies of developing countries; and development of novel strategies to reverse through physical activity and nutrition the trend toward overweight children and adolescents.

"In fact, the scope of what the program offers graduate students parallels the complex, interrelated and dynamic role nutrition plays in human health," said David Lambeth, chairman of biochemistry in the School of Medicine.

Cornell's nutrition program ranked first on the Gourman list, and Columbia University's program placed second.

-Lorri Preston

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