Emory University Stays on the Cutting Edge of Nutrition Science With
the Development of a New Nutrition Center
Nutrition researchers at Emory University have launched the Emory Center
for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition, a multi-disciplinary research
unit based in the Department of Medicine, which was established in 2002
to facilitate and strengthen the presence of nutrition-oriented research
The Center is directed by
Thomas R. Ziegler, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, and is co-directed
by Sampath Parthasarathy, Ph.D., McCord Cross Professor of Gynecology/
Obstetrics and Professor of Medicine, and Dean P. Jones, Ph.D., Professor
of Biochemistry. The Executive Committee of the Center is chaired by
R. Wayne Alexander, M.D., Ph.D., R. Bruce Louge Professor and Chairman
of the Department of Medicine.
"The science of nutrition
is an integrative discipline that frequently doesnít have a strong voice
in medical schools" says Dr. Ziegler, who also directs the required
second year medical school course in nutrition at the Emory University
School of Medicine. "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."
Dr. Ziegler says that 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.
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 symposium, "Obesity:
Causes, Consequences, Controversies and Care" will be held on February
13. 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 will address the causes
and issues of obesity. The conference is directed toward physicians
and other health professionals responsible for the medical treatment
and care of conditions associated with adult and pediatric obesity.
It will cover 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 seminar comes at an important time as obesity is increasingly
being recognized as a major nationwide health problem.
Along with Dr. Ziegler, Drs.
Pathasarathy and Jones are enthusiastic about positioning Emory on the
cutting edge of nutritional science.
"If we can carefully assess
an individualís 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," Dr. Parthasarathy says. "For this, and to achieve the
Nutrition Centerís long range plans and strategy initiatives, we need
commitment, trained technical personnel, more nutrition-oriented faculty,
and increased doctoral and post-doctoral training opportunities. Emory
is already recognized as a reputable clinical and medical school, but
it can be enhanced by integrating a strong nutrition center."
Dr. Jones envisions future
opportunities and possibilities in nutrition research and individualized
patient care by the 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," Dr. Jones notes. "And if we explore the implications of proteomics
for nutrition, we have the possibility to assess an individualís unique
needs according to their specific genetic characteristics, lifestyle,
chemical exposures, exercise and activity level, and individual risks.
The Executive Committee and
Advisory Council of the Emory Center for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition
have identified several opportunities for nutrition research growth
at Emory, including in the areas of nutritional assessment and therapy
in gastrointestinal, neurologic and vascular diseases, cancer, bariatrics,
geriatrics and in hospitalized patients with critical illness, burns
and trauma. A major resource for clinical investigations in these areas
will be the NIH-funded General Clinical Research Centers at Emory University
Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital.