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Nutrition for Precision Health

New study to inform more personalized nutrition recommendations

Personalized nutrition or precision nutrition aims to develop eating recommendations tailored to the individual, in order to improve overall health. This is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but is data driven and based on the many things that make individuals unique. This is a challenging objective and not enough is understood yet about how all these factors interact to influence our lives. Precision nutrition offers amazing opportunities for more insights into the interactions of diet and our personal health.

UC Davis researchers from the CAES nutrition department and the UCD School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year $12.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how diverse individuals respond to foods and diets. They will collect data on all of the many features that may influence this such as genetics, microbes in our gut, family health status, physiology and metabolism, sleep, environment and social determinants of health. The goal is to use this data to develop algorithms that can predict how people may respond to foods and diet patterns. These discoveries have potential for personalized nutrition recommendations to be used to improve individual and public health and prevent or treat conditions related to nutrition…such as heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for nutrition research that will build data through the largest and most diverse precision nutrition study in the United States. The potential for discoveries that will positively impact nutrition and health recommendations is wide open!” said Francene Steinberg, nutrition department chair and professor, and one of the lead researchers on the UC Davis team.

The project is funded by the NIH Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH) initiative which has funded 14 center awards for a total of $170 million over five years. This includes six clinical centers as well as specialized centers for dietary assessment, metabolomics and clinical assays, microbiome work, a data modeling and bioinformatics, and a research coordinating center. The project will leverage the All of Us Research program participants and database, and enroll new participants. UC Davis has an existing All of Us research program that engages participants in health research as trusted partners and is poised to expand their efforts into this nutrition study. The overall NPH program will involve 10,000 diverse participants across the United States.

The UC Davis team is led by Dr. Sandy Borowsky (UC Davis School of Medicine), Sean Adams (UC Davis School of Medicine), and Francene Steinberg (UC Davis CAES Nutrition); involving additional faculty from UC Davis nutrition (Maria Chondronikola – CAES nutrition and Brian Bennett – CAES nutrition adjunct and USDA ARS) as well as UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and Cedars-Sinai Community and Population Health Research Center. This California clinical center group will work with NIH as part of the overall NPH consortium to accelerate nutrition and health research.

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