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Volume 2, Issue 2
February 2021


Director's Corner


The Spring semester of 2021 has gotten off to a quick start. The Personalized Nutrition Initiative has held its first two seminars in the “Frontiers in Nutritional Sciences Seminar Series” on the topic of Personalized Nutrition –Challenges and Opportunities. We were excited to see that over 100 people attended each seminar and included people from both academia and industry. See below for information about the upcoming seminars.

We are continuing to work on the strategic plan including goals and research themes of the initiative and working with faculty across the campus. The Personalized Nutrition Initiative is currently focused on preparing a Center grant proposal in response to the NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement for Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Artificial Intelligence for Multimodal Data Modeling and Bioinformatics Center (U54, RFA-RM-21-001). Professor Saurabh Sinha, PhD, Computer Sciences, and I are taking the lead and have started to involve faculty from many disciplines across campus. The U54 grant is due in early April, so please contact Saurabh and myself if you are interested in being part of this grant project.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions or suggestions.

Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD
Director, Personalized Nutrition Initiative


Personalized Nutrition Seminar – Spring 2021


The Personalized Nutrition Initiative has organized the Division of Nutritional Sciences' "Frontiers in Nutritional Sciences Seminar Series" on the topic of Personalized Nutrition –Challenges and Opportunities for the Spring Semester. Seminars will be via Zoom at 4-5 PM on Wednesdays, except for Monday, February 15th and Monday, March 22nd. The seminar series will feature external experts as well as highlight the research being conducted by our faculty and students across campus. The full seminar line-up is posted on the Personalized Nutrition Initiative website. Below is information about the two first speakers:

Join the seminars through this Zoom link for the seminars, unless stated otherwise:
Meeting ID: 814 1581 8647                Password: 916199


Monday, February 15, 2021
Steven Zeisel MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 

Director, UNC Nutrition Research Institute, Kannapolis, NC
Founder of SNP Therapeutics
Seminar Title: Precision Nutrition: Lessons from Studies on the Nutrient Choline


Wednesday, February 24, 2021
John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto

Seminar Title: The Portfolio Diet for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: From Evidence to Guidelines to Practice


Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Joshua C Anthony PhD, MBA
Founder and CEO, Nlumn, LLC, Princeton, NJ

Alumni from Division of Division of Nutritional Sciences (MS 1998)
Seminar Title*: Dr. Hindsight’s Guide to Commercializing Personal Nutrition: Lessons Learned from Launching and Selling Habit
*This seminar is co-sponsored by the Institute for Genomic Biology Fox Family Lecture Series in Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Luis Perez, BS
Nutritional Sciences Doctoral Candidate advised by Dr. Ken Wilund

Seminar Title: Dietary Interventions and Strategies to Reduce Sodium Consumption and Volume Overload in Hemodialysis Patients


Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Holly Nicastro, PhD, MPH

Program Director, Precision Nutrition Research,
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH
Seminar title: Precision Nutrition in the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research




Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy: Research and Data Symposium for Food and Nutrition


March 1-4, 2021
Virtual Symposium,


Summit Purpose: This symposium provides a single venue for transdisciplinary research, collaboration, and communication on topics related to nutrition, public health, and data sciences. Together, we can advance a shared agenda to build students' knowledge and skills for translating data into actionable nutrition and health policies.
The symposium sessions will be held from 12:00-1:00 pm EST and 3:00-8:00 pm EST and the sessions include:

  • Workshops on statistical programming, data visualizations, and data communication
  • Panel Discussions on topics ranging from health disparities to using food as medicine
  • Career Discussions for young professionals interested at working in food business, pharmaceuticals, community nutrition, and nutrition policy  
  • Oral Presentations to help students practice presenting their research

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Precision Nutrition and Brain Health Symposium


April 15-16, 2021
Virtual Symposium,


Symposium Focus: The symposium focuses on the interaction between genes and nutrition affects brain development and health, incorporating precision nutrition into research on brain development, and advancing the field of brain development and function with precision nutrition.


The Food as Medicine Summit


May 25-26, 2021
Virtual Summit,


Summit Purpose: The Food as Medicine Summit brings together multiple stakeholders from healthcare and the food industry for a networking and learning opportunity truly grounded in evidence. Learn the latest of the whole field, and address the key obstacles standing in the way of widespread adoption and success for evidence-backed food for health.


In the News


Personal approach combined with AI helps us change eating behavior


(Wageningen University & Research, February 4, 2021) The national Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) has opened a new lab focused on health and nutrition. Wageningen University & Research is one of the partners in the lab and with their contribution takes steps in the application of Artificial Intelligence within health and nutrition. An example of what’s to come are AI-based nutritional analyses that provide important insights and personalized support. This gives the dietitian or nutritionist time to focus even more on coaching or treatment.

The new
OnePlanet ICAI lab for Precision Health, Nutrition and Behavior is a collaboration between a/o Radboud University, OnePlanet Research Center, Radboud university medical center and Wageningen University & Research. Eight PhD students and three postdocs will in time join the new initiative. They’ll work on the development of new sensors, algorithms, chatbots and apps that provide personalized support in the field of health and (eating) behavior.

Guido Camps from Wageningen University & Research and Tibor Bosse from Radboud University will start as academic directors of the new lab. They are enthusiastic about the new collaboration between the various institutes. Bosse: “This lab gives us the opportunity to take significant steps in the application of Artificial Intelligence in the field of nutrition and healthcare. The personal approach combined with technical means contributes to the necessary change in our eating behavior.

Camps adds: “The expertise in the field of AI comes from Radboud University, the sensors from imec, OnePlanet and the other industrial partners and Wageningen University & Research provides the expertise in the field of nutrition and health. By joining forces, I think we can really contribute to the field. We know that making nutritional advice is quite time consuming in practice. By using smart apps, the important interpersonal side of nutritional advice and (eating) behavior can receive even more attention.”


Can technology help us eat better?


(International New York Times, February 9, 2021) A new crop of digital health companies is offering consumers an unusual way to transform the way they eat, with the promise of improving metabolic health, boosting energy levels and achieving a personalized road map to better health. Their pitch: Find the food that are best for you by seeking how they affect your blood sugar levels.

The companies, which include Levels, Nutrisense and January, provide their customers continuous glucose monitors — sleek, wearable devices that attach to your arm and measure your body’s glucose levels 24 hours a day, no skin pricks required. The devices transmit that data to your smartphone, allowing you to see in real time how your glucose levels are affected by your diet, sleep, exercise and stress levels. Read more.


External Funding Opportunities


NIH- Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund) – 6 RFAs for Nutrition for Precision Health


Application Deadlines: April 6, 2021


Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Artificial Intelligence for Multimodal Data Modeling and Bioinformatics Center (U54 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (RFA-RM-21-001)

Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Metabolomics and Clinical Assays Center (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (RFA-RM-21-002)

Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Microbiome and Metagenomics Center (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (RFA-RM-21-003)

Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Dietary Assessment Center (U24 Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-RM-21-004)

Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Clinical Centers (UG1 Clinical Trial Required) (RFA-RM-21-005)

Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program: Research Coordinating Center (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (RFA-RM-21-006)


National Science Foundation and National Institute for Health- Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science


Application Deadlines: February 16 and November 10, 2021


Purpose: This interagency program solicitation supports the development of transformative high-risk, high-reward advances in computer and information science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, behavioral and/or cognitive research to address pressing questions in the biomedical and public health communities. Transformations hinge on scientific and engineering innovations by interdisciplinary teams that develop novel methods to intuitively and intelligently collect, sense, connect, analyze and interpret data from individuals, devices and systems to enable discovery and optimize health. Solutions to these complex biomedical or public health problems demand the formation of interdisciplinary teams that are ready to address these issues, while advancing fundamental science and engineering.
Guidelines: Click here for the Program Solicitation


Stay Connected


Click here to join our mailing list and get updates from the Personalized Nutrition Initiative, including our newsletter. 


The Personalized Nutrition Initiative is a campuswide partnership between the Office of
the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (OVCRI), the Carl R. Woese Institute
for Genomic Biology (IGB), and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and
Environmental Sciences (ACES).

Visit the Personalized Nutrition Initiative website for more information.


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