Emory’s new Center for Clinical and Molecular
Nutrition, a multidisciplinary research unit established last year
in the Department of Medicine, is geared toward facilitating and
strengthening the presence of nutrition-oriented research on campus.
In its effort to emphasize the importance of nutrition and nutrition
research, the center will sponsor several seminars and symposia
annually to educate faculty, students and other health care professionals.
The first, “Obesity: Causes, Consequences, Controversies and
Care” was held Feb. 13, as an expert group of investigators—including
faculty from Emory and several other U.S. medical schools, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Cancer Society—addressed
areas such as the epidemiology of obesity in the United States and
in the developing world; obesity as a risk factor for cancer and
other chronic diseases; controversies in the dietary management
and prevention of obesity; and behavioral, medical and surgical
treatment of obesity.
“The science of nutrition is an integrative discipline that
frequently doesn’t have a strong voice in medical schools,”
said Thomas Ziegler, associate professor of medicine and director
of the center. “We want our medical school graduates to be
knowledgeable about nutrition and its appropriate use to treat and
prevent illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes.”
The center is co-directed by Sampath Parthasarathy, McCord Cross
Professor of Gynecology/Obstetrics, and Dean Jones, professor of
Ziegler, who also directs the required second-year medical school
course in nutrition, said nutrition is assuming ever-greater importance
in new approaches to disease management, and the time is ripe to
integrate and increase nutrition-oriented basic, translational and
clinical research at Emory.
Along with Ziegler, Parthasarathy and Jones are enthusiastic about
positioning Emory on the cutting edge of nutritional science.
“If we can carefully assess an individual’s nutritional
state and specific nutrition-related endpoints such as antioxidant
status, we can determine how to use diet or perhaps targeted nutrient
supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies and improve health,”
Parthasarathy said. “For this, and to achieve the nutrition
center’s long-range plans and strategy initiatives, we need
commitment, trained technical personnel, more nutrition-oriented
faculty and increased doctoral and postdoctoral training opportunities.
Emory already is recognized as a reputable clinical and medical
school, but it can be enhanced by integrating a strong nutrition
Jones envisions future opportunities in nutrition research and individualized
patient care by using genomics (study of the human genome, or genetic
code) and proteomics (study of the sequence of each human protein)
for nutritional assessment of individuals.
“With the sequencing of the human genome, there have been
tremendous developments in terms of understanding the unique genetic
characteristics of individuals and what their needs are,”
Jones said. “If we explore the implications of proteomics
for nutrition, we have the possibility to assess an individual’s
unique needs according to their specific genetic characteristics,
lifestyle, chemical exposures, exercise and activity level, and