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Volume 2, Issue 1
January 2021

Director's Corner

 Happy New Year! There are many exciting developments in the area of personalized nutrition. NIH held a 2-day workshop on January 11-12, 2021, on the topic of Precision Nutrition: Research Gaps and Opportunities. The 41 speakers covered many of the factors that contribute to personalized nutrition - genetics, environmental exposures, food composition, social networks, food industry, food intake habits, behaviors, sleep, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence etc. It was a great overview of the complexity of the area and it showcased that interdisciplinary team approaches are needed to move the research in this area forward to ultimately improve human health. 

Another exciting news is that the NIH Office of Nutrition Research has been moved to the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives within the NIH Office of the Director. This reorganization positions of the Office of Nutrition Research to enhance engagement of all NIH Institutes and Centers in implementing the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research, read more below.

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

Campus Survey results

Thank you to the 107 faculty, staff, postdocs, and students who completed the Personalized Nutrition Initiative Campus Survey.

We are pleased to have campus-wide participation with responders representing 11 Colleges, Schools, or Research Units on campus. The survey is now closed and we are summarizing the results. This information will be instrumental in defining the priorities of the PNI and for seeding new collaborations.  

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


Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD
Professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health
Director, Personalized Nutrition Initiative
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB)
Division of Nutritional Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Seminar Title: Personalized Nutrition –Challenges and Opportunities

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
No Seminar – Division of Nutritional Sciences Endowed Awards


Wednesday, February 10, 2020
José Ordovás PhD

Professor of Nutrition and Genetics, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Lead Scientist & Senior Scientist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA
Seminar Title: Precision Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Traits


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
Office of Nutrition Research transferring within NIH

On January 8, 2021, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced in a statement that the NIH has begun the official transfer of the Office of Nutrition Research from NIDDK to the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives within the NIH Office of the Director. This reorganization positions of the Office of Nutrition Research to enhance engagement of the NIH Institutes and Centers in implementing the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research, to develop new collaborations focused on nutrition research within and outside NIH, and to ensure coordination of and leadership for nutrition research across the agency.

As a result of this transfer, the Office of Nutrition Research is moving its email update service to a new platform. Please confirm your email address to ensure continued and uninterrupted receipt of ONR messages.

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

USDA/ HHS, December 29, 2020) Nutrition in America took a major step forward with the publication of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 on December 29, 2020.  It was jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years, the guidelines provide science-based recommendations designed to foster healthy dietary patterns for Americans of all ages – from birth through older adults. Importantly, this edition expands the guidance, for the first time including recommended healthy dietary patterns for infants and toddlers. There are many great resources available such as Make Every Bite Count, Eat Healthy, Be Healthy, Consumer Resources, and various other Infographics.

Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD, Director of the Personalized Nutrition Initiative at Illinois was the only person representing University of Illinois on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. There were a total of 20 nationally recognized scientific experts in nutrition and medicine on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which produced the Scientific Report that is the basis for the new dietary guidelines.

External Funding Opportunities
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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