The school is among fewer than 10 accredited U.S. schools of public health to offer this degree.
After years of growing focus on nutrition—as well as its relationship to human health— the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington (IUSPH-B) recently received approval from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to offer a Ph.D. in nutrition. Housed in the school's Department of Applied Health Science, the program will include in-depth examination of nutrition research methods, along with how to best communicate nutrition information to a variety of audiences.
"We are excited that the Ph.D. in nutrition will train the next generation of nutrition scientists to conduct research that is rigorous and trustworthy, for careers within and beyond academia," says nutrition expert Nana Gletsu Miller, associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Science. "Unique features of our program will be the ability to undergo internships in clinical dietetics, as well as in industry and policy environments."
Dr. Gletsu Miller is particularly eager to use the new metabolic kitchen, supported by resources from the IUSPH-B and IU Bloomington's Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Research Equipment Fund. According to the funding request, "A metabolic kitchen is a research-grade resource that enables preparation, storage, safe handling and distribution of meals to participants involved in clinical studies. [They] support high-quality nutrition research such that the participants consume diets where the nutrient and food composition is accurately known." Dr. Gletsu Miller, along with Drs. Andrew Brown and Cydne Perry, will utilize the kitchen to study how diet affects cardiometabolic health.
The curriculum also emphasizes the "rigor, reproducibility, and transparency" of nutrition research in an effort to improve the quality of data from nutrition-based studies. IUSPH-B offers national NIH-funded courses such as "The Mathematical Sciences in Obesity Research," wherein students examine the intersection of mathematical sciences—in particular, statistics—and obesity research. This two-pronged approach to obesity research training is characteristic of the school's interdisciplinary approach to multi-faceted topics such as obesity and nutrition.
Indeed, according to Stephen Carter, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, "The push to establish a doctoral program in nutrition science extends the breadth of opportunity for interdepartmental collaborations and provides a natural bridge to the synergy we know exists between nutrition and human performance."
The school expects robust interest in the program from undergraduate students pursuing the existing B.S. in nutrition science, as well as public health graduates and professionals seeking to enrich their practice through vigorous examination of the latest developments in nutrition and related fields."IU Bloomington has a long tradition of fostering an exceptional academic experience in order to nurture and train people on the forefront of innovation and ingenuity," says Carrie Docherty, executive associate dean of IUSPH-B. "This doctoral program will draw on these strengths and reinforce their evolution in responding to the needs and rapid change of the modern world."
"It has been said that the purpose of eating is to take chemicals into the body to replace the chemicals the body loses through the processes of living. That is unequivocally true, but nutrition is so much more," says IUSPH-B Dean David Allison. "Nutrition is food—it is also energetics; ecology and evolutionary biology; family and culture; economics and commerce; and the tools to slow or accelerate aging, alleviate or exacerbate disease, sustain or accelerate the collapse of the environment, and enhance and achieve peak sport performance."
"I am so glad that Dr. Gletsu Miller has taken the lead among our many strong faculty in nutrition and helped us bring this vibrantly conceived doctoral program to fruition and state approval. We very much look forward to inducting our first class of Ph.D. students soon, and—given current recruitment efforts—increasing our number of outstanding nutrition science faculty."
John E. Courtney, chief executive officer of the American Society for Nutrition, adds: "The American Society for Nutrition applauds the creation of this Ph.D. program, which supports the growth of the nutrition research enterprise and ensures a diverse workforce of nutrition research professionals and practitioners."