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7 Education and Training in the Nutrition and Food Sciences To meet the research opportunities and challenges identifies! in the previous four chapters, it is vital to the future of the nutrition and food sciences to attract motivated, achievement-oriented students into these disciplines and provide them with high-quality education and train- ing. In colleges and universities across the UnitecI States, there are ap- proximately 92 programs in or departments of nutrition, 29 in food sci- ence, and 27 joint departments or programs. The American Institute of Nutrition (AIN) estimated in 1989 that there were almost 9,000 students in master's degree programs in nutrition and about 600 in doctoral pro- grams. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in the 1990-1991 academic year, 305 students received master's degrees in food science and 124 received doctorates. Many professionals have been trained at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in nutrition or food science. However, a substantial num- ber of prominent nutrition and food scientists have developed their pro- fessional identification later in their careers, frequently at the postbaccalau- reate level and not uncommonly at the postdoctoral level. This reflects the fact that nutrition and food science are multidisciplinary areas of research and learning and that these disciplines can attract scientists at a variety of stages of career and intellectual development. For this reason, academic programs in the nutrition and food sciences must always remain open and adaptable to talented and qualified individuals. Nutrition and food scien- tists can be trained in a variety of ways, but for these disciplines to main 209
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210 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES fain their identity and become most effective in generating new knowl- edge, a substantial number of individuals should be trained as nutrition and food scientists. Undergraduate and graduate programs in the nutrition and food sci- ences exist in research-oriented colleges and universities, professional schools, and liberal arts institutions. Almost all land-grant universities and colleges in each of the 50 states offer training in the nutrition sciences, food sci- ences, or both. Within an institution, these programs may be found in colleges of human ecology, home economics, agriculture, or health sci- ences or in schools of medicine, public health, or nutrition. Thus, the composition and location of educational and training programs in the nu- trition and food sciences vary among institutions. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of the various structures are discussed later, in the section on graduate education. Current institutional infrastructures need to be examined as the nutri- tion and food sciences advance to meet the research challenges identified in this report in the basic biological sciences of nutrition, food science and engineering, the clinical nutrition sciences, and the behavioral and social sciences of nutrition. The expertise required to meet these chal- lenges goes beyond the traditional qualifications of faculty in nutrition, food science, medical school, or public health programs. Expertise from scientists in related fields is necessary. In other words, nutritionists and food scientists must engage in interdisciplinary efforts with each other and with basic biological and social scientists. For example, research in the biological sciences shows that some nutrients play key roles in regulat- ing metabolism. Future efforts to identify nutrient-gene interactions will require the attention of nutritionists well trained in molecular, cellular, and integrative biology. Although the work of food scientists has expanded and improved our food supply, many new challenges remain. Collabora- tion among engineers, microbiologists, molecular biologists, food scien- tists, and nutritionists is needed to create new foods that are nutritious, palatable, and safe. Clinical nutritionists have demonstrated the role of diet in maintaining physiological function and preventing chronic disease, but future advances in understanding these relationships require joint efforts with physicians and biologists. Designing successful public health and community intervention programs requires an understanding of hu- man behavior, economics, epidemiology, anthropology, and political sci- ence. Interdisciplinary efforts among nutritionists and behavioral and so- cial scientists are needed to meet this challenge. It is essential, therefore, that students in the nutrition and food sciences develop an understanding of the basic science of a related discipline such as molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, engineering, medical science, soci- ology, or political science.
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EDUCATION AND TRaINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 211 One way to extend the boundaries of a nutrition or food science de- partment to include related fields is to develop graduate programs that are offered by groups of faculty with ~ common int'?r~?st in nutrition or L _ _ 1 _ · . 1 . 1 Ioua science rarner Nan oy a specific department or division. Such group programs have been used successfully for the basic biological sciences of nutrition and the food sciences, clinical nutrition, and social sciences of nutrition. In these programs, graduate study is organized in "fields" that cut across departmental boundaries. Thus, it is as easy to combine nutri- tion with biochemistry and physiology as it is to combine nutrition with anthropology and economics, or any other possibilities of interest to the student. These interdisciplinary groups can expand the opportunities within an institution as well. Another approach for extending the boundaries of nutrition or food science departments into related disciplines is to hire faculty from those disciplines into the department. This is a good method to ensure integra- tion of related disciplines into the curriculum when the department is large enough to accommodate this diversity. However, this approach is limited by the few available positions for new faculty in any one depart- ment and the fact that faculty may wish to associate with others from their discipline rather than individuals in a related science. When departmental size is a factor, it may be more practical to have students learn the theory of related disciplines from faculty in these related departments. It then becomes the responsibility of the nutrition or food science faculty to link and integrate that knowledge into food and nutrition theory. UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION Many students who enter programs in the nutrition and food sciences as undergraduates do not plan to pursue graduate studies and hope to become employed in a related activity after graduation. Departments of nutrition usually provide two undergraduate tracks: one focused on nutri- tion science and the other on the practice of nutrition (i.e., dietetics); students in the latter category are less likely to go to graduate school. Students in nutrition science use the degree as preprofessional training for graduate school in biomedical science or to enter the job market or business administration. According to a recent survey by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the highest degree received by almost half the country's registered dietitians (R.D.) is the baccalaureate. Undergraduate nutrition programs are frequently oriented toward these students, training them for employment as practitioners and administrators in, for example, hospitals, industry, and government food programs. As a result, dietetics programs are not designed to meet the needs of students who plan to go on to graduate and other professional programs. Furthermore, the per
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212 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES ception of many undergraduates ancI their faculty advisors is that nutrition and food science are not as challenging as are traditional sciences such as biology or chemistry. This incorrect perception discourages many students from choosing to major in these disciplines. The best undergraduate programs in the nutrition and food sciences draw upon the biological, chemical, physical, and behavioral sciences to help students unclerstancI the interrelationships of nutrition, food, and health and to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. We be- lieve that faculty should identify nutrition and food science undergradu- ates who intend to go to graduate school and ensure that their coursework follows this model, encourage them to specialize, anct offer all students opportunities to conduct independent research under the guidance of a professor. We recommence a core curriculum for these students with the following courses: general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemis- try; biology and integrative biology (e.g., physiology); nutrition science; microbiology; food chemistry; mathematics through elementary calculus; physics; statistics; and behavioral sciences. Students interested in food science need the same basic science training in biology, chemistry, and physics, plus food engineering, food processing, and coursework in regula- tory policy. Where possible, freshmen should take an introductory course in the nutrition and food sciences to provide an early grounding in their chosen discipline and to learn the relevance and importance of the basic sciences. Since nutrition and food science majors are required to complete prerequisite work in the basic sciences during the first two or three years of their undergraduate education, there is a tendency for some of them to lose interest and change their major. To prevent this from happening, general courses or seminars focusing on popular issues in nutrition or food science could be offered for students each semester or quarter. At least one institution offers an introductory course to freshmen geared to the nutritional issues of interest to an educatecI layperson. In the second year, after the students have had a year of biology and a course in the behavioral sciences as freshmen, they take a course on the influence of the social sciences on the foodways and nutritional health of populations. These courses give a broad perspective on the diet-related interests of concern to individuals and populations before they enroll in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism. Another institution offers one- or two-unit seminars open to all students on campus on popular topics in foods and nutrition, such as nutrition and physical fitness, nutrition and heart dis- ease (or cancer or obesity), food safety, maternal and infant nutrition, nutrition and aging, and social influences on eating habits and access to food. Many fine research universities and colleges do not have specialized
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EDUCATION AND TWINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 213 unclergraduate programs in nutrition or food science. A major challenge is to identify students in these settings who may have interests in the critical problems of food and nutrition, excite their curiosity, and identify oppor- tunities for them to begin to study these issues within their institutions. Students need a foundation in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism, molecular biology, and the integrative biological sciences. In addition, they should have experience in conducting research, including experimen- tal design, data analysis, and development of inferences. These students may need to take advantage of opportunities outside their institution to receive specialized training in the nutrition and food sciences. Summer Training Programs Summer courses in the nutrition and food sciences could provide great opportunities to acquaint undergraduates both nutrition en c! food sci- ence majors as well as interested students at institutions with or without programs in these disciplines with a range of research problems in the nutrition and food sciences and with the approaches and technology being used to solve these problems. We believe that these summer training programs exist in two different forms. The first form is represented by the highly successful summer courses such as those offered at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods EIole, Massachusetts) and Cold Spring EIar- bor Laboratory (Cold Spring EIarbor, New York), that cover areas of biol- ogy from parasitology to computational neuroscience to the genetics of yeast or mice and are intense versions of graduate-level laboratory courses. It is generally not possible to organize such high-powered courses with the fiscal ant! personnel resources available at most unclergraduate institu- tions. For the best of these courses, highly qualified researchers and teachers are recruited from around the country to organize and conduct these summer courses. The formal lectures and laboratory sessions last from six to eight weeks. In the laboratory, students work in groups on a series of projects spanning current research in an area. Such a training program could give students hands-on experiences in structured laboratory of field- basec3 settings and acquaint them with a range of research problems and tools used by investigators in the nutrition and food sciences. Formal examinations should provide a measure of the student's achievement and should become a permanent part of the student's academic record. An alternative program would be modeled after summer undergra(lu- ate research experiences that are organized and offered by many univer- sity science departments in the United States. These programs differ con- siderably from the type discussed above because they emphasize research experience for individual students in individual research laboratories. Rather than having a set of organized laboratory experiences, students work on
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214 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES specific, specialized research problems for an entire summer (10 to 12 weeks). As a general rule, these programs also have didactic components in which faculty give lectures about their own research or some related specialized area of research. Usually these lectures involve only one or two hours per week, with the balance of time spent in a specific research laboratory. Although less broad than the more structured courses described above, the advantage of these programs is their emphasis on ongoing re- search in a realistic laboratory setting. For some undergraduates, a better balance could be achieved in these programs by including an intensive lecture course (four to six hours per week) that covers a specialized area of interest to the faculty. Unlike the structured program, formal examina- tions are not appropriate to measure the accomplishments of the student. At the end of a summer research program that emphasizes experience in a research laboratory, each student should give an oral presentation on his/ her research results to the faculty, staff, and other trainees of the pro- gram. The program faculty and the faculty mentor should provide a for- mal evaluation of the student's accomplishments based on the oral pre- sentation and their knowledge of the student's laboratory accomplishments. The two models described above are suitable for undergraduate stu- dents (and occasionally beginning graduate students) of different types. Thus, students, majoring in nutrition or food science may already have taken courses that would be covered in a program of formal lectures and structured laboratory exercises. These students would likely be better served by an intensive exposure to a research laboratory and to seminars on current research of the faculty. On the other hand, science students who do not major in the nutrition or food sciences or who are educated at institutions that do not have nutrition or food science departments may gain more from the structured laboratory experience, where breadth is emphasized. Summer training programs conforming to both of these models should be organized and offered by nutrition science and food science depart- ments. We recommend that these programs be offered by the U.S. De- partment of Agriculture (USDA) as well. Competitively awarded fellow- ships would allow selected undergraduates to gain experience at nutrition departments and food science departments or at the five Human Nutri- tion Research Centers (EINRCs) and five Regional Research Centers (RRCs) located throughout the United States (see Chapter S). Professional societ- ies in the nutrition and food sciences, industry, USDA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should provide support for establishing these programs, especially for the more structured courses where the organiza- tion and execution will be more expensive. For both types of programs, these same groups should provide competitively awarded travel grants and
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRZTZON AND FOOD SCIENCES 215 fellowships to enable talented undergraduates with demonstrated interest in these disciplines to participate. Accreditation A significant source of tension may exist between institutions that offer baccalaureate degrees in the nutrition and food sciences and the ADA and Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), which accredit or ap- prove many of the programs. Both disciplines benefit from this credentialing or approval process, but meeting the requirements outlined by these pro- fessional associations makes demands on departmental curricular resources and may limit student development. ADA has an extensive set of highly structured curricular requirements and faculty-supervisecT criteria that leads to the credentialing of students as R.D.s. Credentialing requirements may serve the practical needs of students and employers, but they do not ensure that the academic accom- plishments of undergraduates are comparable to those of students in the basic sciences. Credentialing requirements also may have the effect of encouraging undergraduates who desire an R.D. to focus on vocational needs rather than fully explore the basic sciences and more specialized aspects of human nutrition. Furthermore, paths taken by various institu- tions to meet credentialing requirements increase the difficulty of com- pleting an undergraduate degree in four years. An additional consequence of ADA requirements is that they diffuse resources away from departmen- tal or institutional efforts to begin training students to critically evaluate research in the nutrition and food sciences and to become competent investigators. Programs that lead to a bachelor's degree and an R.D. tend to be more popular than nutrition science programs because the former are more directly linked with immediate career opportunities, and are there- fore important to nutrition departments that offer undergraduate degrees. However, when financial resources are reduced or limited, nutrition de- partments walk a tightrope between the potential loss of "practitioner" faculty and the need to maintain a rigorous, science-oriented major. IFT requirements for programs in food science are more general, compared to ADA certification requirements, but they too reduce the flexibility of undergraduate programs and may diminish the enthusiasm or ability of faculty in the vanguard of their field to develop and introduce demanding academic courses at the early stages of a student's career. Thus, the brightest undergraduates in food science may not be sufficiently stimulates] and may have more limited intellectual horizons than some of their peers in other areas of science. We recommend that departments of nutrition and food science with
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216 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES high-quality research programs take the initiative and develop, in coop- eration with the appropriate professional societies (e.g., ADA, IFT, and AIN), a credentialing and approval process that is fully congruent with future opportunities in the nutrition and food sciences, clearly allied to the rapid advancements in knowledge and technology, and increasingly competitive in attracting bright undergraduates who wish to pursue ad- vanced degrees. This could be accomplished by ADA and IFT task forces, each composed of representatives of the association and faculty chairs whose departments are affected significantly by association requirements. Each task force could examine how issues of certification and accredita- tion are handlecI in other professions. Given ADA's and IFT's stated com- mitment to enhance the research base of dietetics anc3 food science and technology, we urge ADA and IFT to permit greater flexibility in the undergraduate curriculum. Increased flexibility would permit a greater emphasis on basic science preparation and improve the research base for the practice of dietetics and food science. In abolition, it would ensure that nutrition and food science majors trained in the best research-ori- ented departments would enjoy the benefits of an exciting and rigorous undergraduate major and still have a reasonable chance of passing the R.D. qualifying examination. Any concerns that some majors would es- cape a particular kind of practical experience could be met by specialty exams given by employers or a professional society. GRADUATE EDUCATION Graduate education and training in the nutrition and food sciences are configured, in part, arounc! a stuclent's undergraduate background and career goals. Without question, opportunities abound in these disciplines. In fact, few disciplines that offer a graduate degree provicle recipients with such a wide spectrum of career opportunities. These careers include academic and industrial research in various fields of basic biological and biomedical science, administration and nutrition research in business, public health nutrition specialists in the United States and abroad, specialists in nutrition and international development, product development in indus- trial research, food policy analysis, and investigation into the basic aspects of cultural nutritional practices. Because applicants to graduate programs in nutrition or food science come from a variety of backgrounds, admission requirements tend to be flexible. Most programs require a basic understanding of biology, chemis- try, and mathematics. Students frequently have undergraduate coursework similar to that recommended for premedical students. The didactic phases of graduate education in the nutrition or food sciences usually have three components (1) field-related core graduate courses, (2) basic graduate -
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 217 level courses, usually in basic science, and (3) courses related to career goals such as molecular biology or epiclemiology. Examples of generic doctoral programs for nutrition science, food science, and public health nutrition are shown in Tables 7.1, 7.2, ant! 7.3, respectively. Each pro- gram is filled out with the area of specialization to conform to a stucJent's career goals. Required courses in nutrition often include graduate-level basic cellu- lar and molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, perhaps genetics ant! epidemiology, and one or more courses in the social sciences. In food science, core courses inclucle graduate-level food chemistry, food microbi- ology, food engineering, and basic science or engineering. After prerequi- sites have been satisfied, students select courses that fit their career ob- jectives. An important aspect of graduate training, particularly at the cloctoral level, is the development of an in-depth knowledge base necessary for independent research. Doctoral students in nutrition science or food sci- ence may have research dissertation topics as diverse as the interaction between a nutrient and a nuclear receptor leading to gene transcription to the influence of food selection practices on the nutritional status of mi- grant farm workers. TABLE 7.1 Example of a Doctoral Program for Nutrition Science Prerequisites Bachelor's degree with a strong background in the biological and physical sciences Recommended Courses Advanced Metabolism and Biochemistry Carbohydrate and Lipid Nutrition Mammalian Phvsiologv ~ J Mineral Nutrition Nutritional Sciences Seminar Proteins and Amino Acid Nutrition Research Planning and Ethics Statistical Methods Vitamin Nutrition Areas of Specialization Nutritional Biochemistry This specialization may require additional courses in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, immunology, genetics, and endocrinology. Clinical and Human Nutrition This specialization may require additional courses in clinical nutrition, food chemistry, microbiology, epidemiology, endocrinology, genetics, and social sciences. -
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21S OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES TABLE 7.2 Example of a Doctoral Program for Food Science Prerequisites Bachelor's degree with ~ strong background in the biological and physical sciences Recommended Courses Advanced Food Chemistry Advanced Food Processing Carbohydrates in Food Systems Food Lipids and Flavor Chemistrv J Food Science Seminar Food Toxicolo~v ;~, Principles of Food Microbiology Proteins and Enzymes in Food Systems Psychophysical Aspects of Foods Research Planning and Celtics Statistics Areas of Specialization Food Chemistry/Biochemistry This specialization may require additional courses in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, microbiology, nutrition science, fisheries and aquatic sciences, and computer science. Food Processing/Engineering This specialization may require additional courses in chemistry, computer science, agricultural or other engineering departments, horticulture, and animal science. Food Safety This specialization m cay require additional courses in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, physiology, toxicology, microbiology, and environmental engineering sciences. Graduate education programs in nutrition and food science depart- ments (separate or combined) usually draw strength from gracluate-level courses in the basic sciences such as biochemistry and molecular biology. They tend to have strong programs of didactic instruction and provide rich research experiences with faculty committed solely to these disci- plines. When these programs are at institutions with medical programs, students can also elect to take courses that emphasize disease and its treatment as part of their didactic program. Students in all of these pro- grams are encouraged to become fluent in the language of related disci- plines (e.g., biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, and epidemiol- ogy) through seminar programs and other contacts with scientists in these cognate areas to augment their training and career opportunities. Students considering graduate programs should assess the extramural funding base of these programs. Extramural research grants can be used to support doctoral and postdoctoral trainees, and this would extend and
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 219 TABLE 7.3 Example of a Doctoral Program for Public Health Nutrition Prerequisites Strong background in the biological and social sciences. Undergraduate study of nutrition is preferred. Recommended Courses Assessment of Nutritional Status Behavioral Science Biostatistics (basic and multivariate) Epidemiologic Methods and Analysis Health Education (theory and methods) Health Policy and Administration Human Nutrition and Metabolism Intervention Programs (design and evaluation) Nutrition Seminar Research Methods and Ethics Areas of Specialization Nutritional Epidemiology This specialization may require additional courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, human genetics, environmental health, disease surveillance, international health, computer science, and the basic biological sciences. Nutrition Policy This specialization may require additional courses in public policy, economics, communication, health education, community organization, organizational behavior, computer science, mathematical modeling, and other behavioral and social sciences. Behavioral Science and Nutrition This specialization may require additional courses in anthropology, psychology, education, communication, organizational behavior, computer science, mathematical modeling, and other behavioral and social sciences. strengthen training opportunities in modern research techniques. Interac- tion with postdoctoral trainees will supplement the graduate students formal and informal training provided by the research faculty. It is useful for potential students to determine the diversity of options and philoso- phies of the research faculty for their graduate work. Academic Structures for Education in the Nutrition and Food Sciences Many different academic structures have been used to provide educa- tion and training in the nutrition and food sciences. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The structures are based on institutional considerations that are usually both historical and fiscal. Institution involvement ranges from small centers or programs with no formal commitment of funds or
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226 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES TABLE 7.5 Race and Ethnic Background of Doctorate Recipients in Selected Fields for Selected Years, 1970-1992 Field197619801985199019911992 Nutrition Sciences Asian965877 Black234123 HispanicI12353 Native American010010 Wh ite546672736082 Unknown225203 Food Sciences Asian810910914 Blacl<104412 HispanicII1732 Native American011110 White544964474950 Unknown230022 Biochemistry Asian443534335839 Black47612711 Hispanic65851214 Native American012011 White462517441459473446 Unknown194391077 Cell Biology O. Asian1447711 Black201210 Hispanic012444 Native American001100 White353381104103130 Unknown194391075 Molecular Biology Asian6815153737 Black451158 Hispanic0237511 Native American003032 White124138218300309315 Unknown4124476 Public Health and Epidemiology Asian554101511 Black74991514 Hispanic024555 Native American001020 White83102126159153169 Unknown260076 Home Economics Asian003203 Black333422 Hispanic004001 Native American100200 White628072562240 Unknown040100 SOURCE: National Research Council, Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1970-1992. Data on race and ethnic background were not available for 1970. Data for race and ethnic background are for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRZTION AND FOOD SCIENCES 227 TABLE 7.6 Citizenship of Doctorate Recipients in Selected Fields for Selected Years, 1970-1992 Field 1970 1976 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 Nutrition Sciences U.S. citizens Permanent residents Temporary residents Unknown Food Sciences U.S. citizens Permanent residents Temporary residents Unknown Biochemistry U.S. citizens Permanent residents Temporary residents Unknown Cell Biology U.~. citizens Permanent residents Temporary residents Unknown 58 10 16 1 2453 52 713 12 625 38 OO O 470493 3942 6957 517 4940 33 40 03 589 472 19 28 53 69 12 12 4 2 o 75 86 79 4 2 8 9 24 26 2 1 5 66 51 13 18 53 77 4 5 87 1 4 7 2 65 10 29 2 52 13 80 85 13 46 3 54 16 93 42 487520482 323836 149198183 10913 14 5 19 7 32 1 144 6 38 o Molecular Biology U.S. citizens81130158240314337354 Permanent residents7874132925 Temporary residents79183086114146 Unknown0103011 Public Health and Epidemiology U.S. citizens6292114137172172192 Permanent residents3557112513 Temporary residents1512823384856 Unknown17112424 Home Economics U.S. citizens40668779652445 Permanent residents2003001 Temporary residents82269511 U n known0012001 SOURCE: National Research Council, Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1970-1992. Data on doctorates in the category of nutrition sciences became available in 1976.
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228 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES TRAINING OF SPECIFIC TYPES OF INVESTIGATORS Graduate education and training in the nutrition and food sciences varies depending on the focus and specialty of the student. This section addresses some of the expectations of students who wish to obtain gradu- ate training in clinical investigation, public health nutrition, or food sci ence. Clinical Nutrition Investigators Clinical nutrition has been traditionally concerned with basic knowI- edge relating to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are affected by the intake, absorption, and metabolism of food constituents. These concerns have been expanded to include health promotion and disease prevention, thus underpinning the emphasis on prevention that character- izes current discussions of health-care reform. The clinical nutrition re- searcher is usually an M.D. with primary training in internal medicine, pediatrics, or surgery who then undergoes further training in nutrition. Alternatively, he or she may be a Ph.D. who focuses in an area of nutri- tion and becomes knowledgeable about clinical aspects; such a person is likely to have received graduate training in nutrition, although some may have been trained in biochemistry, dietetics, epidemiology, molecular bi- ology, or pharmacology. While clinical nutrition is not a recognized board under the American Board of Medical Subspecialties, the American Board of Nutrition over the past 40 years has influenced standards and guide- lines for training clinical-nutrition specialists. Generally, support for health professionals in most clinical research is fragmented, undervalued, and underfunded, particularly support for re- search on patients. No organized body focuses attention on and provides support to clinical investigators to ensure their survival and growth in numbers at a time of unprecedented explosions of knowledge in molecu- lar biology, genetics, medicine, and medical information systems. Students may come to this specialty training from a wide range of disciplines. Therefore, each student requires a specialized curriculum to be certain that he or she is trained adequately, possesses the tools to work at the frontiers of research, and has the knowledge to ask important ques ~ .. . . . r tlons. 1 raining IS requires ~ in tour areas · Basic biomedical science This area includes study of biochemis- try, physiology, cellular and molecular biology, and genetics. · Basic nutrition science: This area includes study of the biochem- istry and physiology of nutrient absorption and metabolism, principles of nutritional assessment, the nutritional consequences of critical illness, and nutrition throughout the life cycle.
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EDUCATION AND TRAINZNG IN THE NUTRZTION AND FOOD SCIENCES 229 · Clinical knowledge: This is obtained by exposure to health pro- motion programs and to patients with medical, pediatric, and surgical illnesses in which nutrition plays a role. Students should also learn about the connection between eating habits in the United States and health and have a familiarity with national nutrition policies as well as food science and the food supply. · Basic and clinical research: This training should take place under the supervision of a senior faculty investigator and include experience in basic laboratory techniques, experimental design, statistics, interpretation of ciata, making oral and written presentations, research ethics, and pre- paring grant applications. Clinical Nutrition Research Units (CNRUs) and Obesity Nutrition Research Centers (ONRCs) can provide ideal settings for the training of clinical nutrition investigators because they support interdisciplinary re- search, bringing together a variety of basic scientists and clinical investi- gators (see Chapter 8~. The training functions of CNRUs and ONRCs should be expancled and strengthened. Involvement in both formal didac- tic and laboratory-based training would enhance the trainees' expertise in nutrition. It would also increase the possibility that when trainees join medical and other professional and academic faculty, they will be active in the nutrition education of physicians and other health professionals. Nutritionists in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Nutritionists with expertise in the behavioral and social sciences are frequently trained in schools of public health that are affiliated with medi- cal schools not directly associated with comprehensive universities. Thus, these students may have strong backgrounds in the biological sciences and basic human nutrition but lack opportunities to develop expertise in a field of social science, such as social and cultural anthropology, psychol- ogy, behavioral science, political science, health policy, communication science, or health education. In the future, schools of public health should consider offering two emphases within their graduate nutrition programs. Those affiliated with medical schools may want to develop an emphasis in the biological aspects of nutrition of populations. Students in these pro- grams would be trained to investigate the links between public health problems and medical practice and, as professionals, would be expected to conduct research in clinical nutrition focused on individuals or popula- tions. Schools of public health at institutions with social science clepart- ments may wish to develop an emphasis in the social and psychological influences on the nutrition of populations. Students in these programs would study the links between public health nutrition and economic and social policies. A few schools of public health may be located at institu
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230 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES lions that would allow them to offer both the biological and social science emphases. Students in both emphases will need to develop a thorough understanding of epidemiology and biostatistics to conduct nutrition re- search in the biological and social sciences. In all cases, graduate students in public health nutrition should have access to a department with ongo- ing research in basic human nutrition. Food Scientists and Technologists At the graduate level in food science, research is typically conducted in specific scientific areas such as engineering, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, or food safety. The best departments recruit graduate stu- dents from the basic biological and physical science and engineering un- dergracluate programs, as well as food science and nutrition science un- dergraduates who have excellent backgrounds in basic science. These students are well prepared to apply their knowledge to the many research chal- lenges in graduate programs in food science ant! technology. To prosper, food science departments must increase their efforts to recruit the best students. This may be accomplished, in part, through summer programs of the kinc! discussed earlier in this chapter and by providing increased numbers of graduate fellowships. Food science and technology is inherently interdisciplinary. In fact, many faculty received their degrees in programs such as engineering or microbiology. The challenge is to provide training programs that include both the interdisciplinary subjects that make up the disciplines (i.e., food chemistry, food microbiology, food engineering, and nutrition) as well as advanced courses in the specialty area of study (e.g., engineering). Stu- dents will also need to acquire skills in statistics, critical thinking, techni- cal speaking and writing, and computer technology. Food science departments should promote interactions between their students and faculty in the traditional agriculture departments (e.g., ani- mal science, horticulture, and agronomy) and the basic science depart- ments (e.g., chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering). Students must be able to communicate with, associate with, and learn from students and faculty in those departments. For example, a student carrying out a bio- technological research project to increase the production of ethanol from corn should be consulting with microbiologists, biochemists, chemical en- gineers, and agronomists. Efforts are under way in many departments to focus part of the train- ing on group problem solving or group projects. This can be accomplished through a seminar course or a product development competition at the university, regional, or national level. For example, IFT sponsors a prod- uct development competition each year and encourages groups of under
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 931 V 1 ~ Graduate and Graduate students at a university to join forces to create a product from concept to final package. Issues addressed by the team in- clude engineering and processing, raw materials, cost accounting, packag- ing, safety, advertising, product stability, and environmental impact. Because the food and drug industries support some of the research in food science departments and hire many of their graduates, students should take opportunities to communicate with industry personnel. Many depart- ments bring in a variety of industrial speakers on formal and informal bases to speak with students. Summer internships with industry provide a valuable training experience for both undergraduate and graduate stu- dents in food science. SUPPORT OF GRADUATE EDUCATION IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES The future vitality of the nutrition and food sciences will be shaped by today's students, because they become tomorrow's investigators. To encourage more students to begin careers as investigators in the nutrition and food sciences, it is imperative that funds be available to support at least partially the costs of their graduate education and training. Govern- ment funds for this Purpose come almost entirely from the NTH and r ~ r .~ . 1 1 USDA. A brief description of their various award programs is provided in the box. Further details about the level of support are found in Chapter S. In FY 1991, NIH support for students and trainees at all levels in the nutrition and food sciences totaled $4.1 million. Comparable figures for USDA support in FY 1992 were $2.3 million. These sums are grossly inadequate to attract a new generation of outstanding investigators to the nutrition and food sciences investigators who, for example, can take ad- vantage of the biological revolution that is opening up new opportunities to study fundamental life processes at the genetic and molecular levels or who can integrate this knowledge with applications in clinical nutrition and public health. Furthermore, in many cases support of training is in- substantial and separate from the exciting advances being made in biology and technology. We believe that a program with new mechanisms would augment the current programs and provide much better linkage between the biological revolution and resulting technologies and the nutrition and food sciences. A National Combined Pre- and Postdoctoral Program A common theme in the comments we received from biologists around the country was that we should recommend the creation of new graduate programs for research in the nutrition and food sciences. Molecular and
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232 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES NIL AND USDA SUPPORT OF GRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION National Institutes of Health i' - The training of scientists for careers in the behavioral and biomed- cal sciences is supported primarily through National Research Service Awards (NRSAs). Training grants are awarded to institutions, and fellow- ships are awarded to individuals. NRSAs have two major objectives: to (1) increase the number of individuals trained for research and teaching in specifically designated biomedical areas, and (2) improve the environ- ment in which the biomedical training is conducted. Several of the most common types of NRSA awards are described, as well as the Clinical Investigator Award. Postdoctoral Individual (F32) NRSAs Commonly known as fellowships, these awards provide postdoc- toral research training for qualified individuals who have received a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., or equivalent degree. Recipients are biomedical scientists, clinicians, and others who carry out supervised research to broaden their scientific backgrounds and expand their potential for research in health- related areas. Each applicant must arrange to work with a sponsor who is affiliated with an institution that has the staff and facilities needed for the proposed training. There is national competition for these awards. Institutional (T32J NRSAs Commonly known as training grants, these are awarded to non- profit, private, and nonfederal public institutions to support a training program in biomedical research at the predoctoral and postdoctoral lev- els. The applicant institution must have or be able to develop the staff and facilities required for the proposed program and is responsible for the selection and appointment of trainees. Institutional grants may be made for periods of up to five years and may be renewed. However, an individual may not receive more than eight years of support in the aggre- gate from an NRSA (five years predoctoral support and three years post- doctoral support) unless a waiver is granted. Senior Fellowships Senior fellowships are designed to provide opportunities for expe- rienced scientists to make major changes in the direction of their re- search careers, to acquire new research capabilities, to broaden their scientific background, to enlarge their command of an allied research field, or to take time from regular professional responsibilities to in- crease their capabilities for engaging in health-related research.
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EDUCATION AND TWINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 233 Clinical Investigator (K08J Award This award is designed to provide an opportunity for promising clinically-trained individuals to develop into independent biomedical in- vestigators. It enables candidates to investigate a well-defined problem under a competent sponsor. The award is intended to facilitate the tran- sition from postdoctoral training to a career as an independent investiga- tor. Applicants for the award should have completed their clinical training and have had some postdoctoral research experience. U.S. Department of Agriculture Training of scientists for careers in human nutrition and food sci- ence is supported primarily through the National Needs Graduate Fel- lowships Program and the Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards. National Needs Graduate Fellowships Program This program, begun in 1984, awards grants to colleges and univer- sities to encourage outstanding students to pursue and complete gradu- ate degrees in an area of agricultural science for which development of scientific expertise has been designated by USDA as a national need. Human nutrition and food science is one of six such areas. Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards USDA's relational Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP) supports training through Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards (AREA), which were first awarded in fiscal year (FY) 1991. These awards are designed to help institutions develop competitive research programs and attract scientists to careers in the agricultural sciences. AREA provides support for postdoctoral fellows and new faculty. It also includes Strengthening Awards to enhance the research capabilities of individuals at smaller institutions and those in states that have had limited success in obtaining NRICGP grants. By federal law, at least 10 percent of NRICGP funds go to AREA. cellular biology, biochemistry, systems physiology, chemistry, toxicology, biotechnology, microbiology, and engineering were elements described as central to a graduate program in the nutrition and food sciences. In this section we describe a structured monetary incentive that, in the short term, should increase the number of scientists with expertise in nutrition or food science, or both, and in complementary disciplines such as mo- lecular genetics, biochemistry, chemical engineering, physical anthropol- ogy, selected behavioral sciences, epidemiology, and selected areas of economics.
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234 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES In the long term, it should ensure the growth of nutrition and food sci- ence departments and interdepartmental programs with state-of-the-art graduate curricula. Such support for graduate training, in turn, should ensure a continuous supply of well-trained scientists poised to apply the latest technologies to research problems in the nutrition and food sci ences. Either of the two commonly used types of administrative structures for nutrition and food science programs was considered appropriate to achieve the goals outlined above. The first would involve existing depart- ments of nutrition and food science that had redefined or more gradually evolved scientific areas of interest to include molecular biology or the behavioral and social sciences. In the immediate future, such departments will need to strengthen faculty representation with expertise in the rel- evant biological, engineering, behavioral, and social sciences with research commitment to questions of significance to the nutrition or food sciences. These needs appear to be especially critical in disciplines related to mo- lecular biology. While the overall graduate curriculum in a nutrition or food science department is expected to have a strong bias toward cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and systems physiology (or toward the physical sciences for food engineers), the behavioral sciences also serve as key disciplines. The second organization would be appropriate for institutions without formal nutrition or food science departments. In such cases, establishing interdepartmental programs should be considered. A truly interdiscipli- nary curriculum would ensure an appropriate balance of basic biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, the behavioral and social sci- ences, and, particularly for food science, the physical sciences and engi- neering-related disciplines. In both organizational schemes, the best and most economical solution would be to tap into existing interdisciplinary curricula or to encourage the institution to develop new ones. Several existing departments and programs would be able to take advantage of such interdepartmental curricula. This approach integrates nutrition and food science graduate students with students in the basic biological sci- ences or other fields of study. Some existing examples of these types of organizations are described in this chanter. Description of Program 1 The key feature of this program would be guaranteed stipends for the last three years of graduate work and the first three years of postdoctoral work. To create and maintain a viable program, at least 10 awards should be provided per year. We envisage the program being funded by NISI and USDA, perhaps with the help of NSF and private foundations. Fellow
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EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES 935 ships should be awarded on a national basis to ensure that only students of the highest caliber participate. The competition would be much the same as that for individual NRSAs. Application to such a program would be restricted to graduate students in their second or third years of study, when most students are able to choose a future course for their training. In addition, the students' coursework and initial research activities should be well under way, making it possible to select students on a more in- formed basis than just grade-point average or Graduate Record Examina- tion scores. Under most circumstances, a student's existing graduate pro- gram would sponsor the application and would be where the ensuing work took place. The postdoctoral laboratory and institution would not be selected un- til about one year before completion of the Ph.D. and would preferably be different from the student's graduate institution. This arrangement is generally better for development of a student's research career because it permits experiences in a variety of different scientific environments. Choice of the postdoctoral laboratory would be made by the student, with advice from faculty in his or her predoctoral program. The head of the laboratory chosen for the postdoctoral training and a national monitoring committee of the granting agency would have to concur in the proposed training program. The role of this monitoring committee would be primarily to ensure adherence to the philosophy of the combined pre- and postdoctoral program. The national monitoring committee should be composed of ex- tramural scientists who are expert in the nutrition and food sciences, since agency and foundation administrators might not be sufficiently knowl- edgeable to prevent abuses. Failure to work in a laboratory approved by the national monitoring committee would trigger payback, as would fail- ure to continue in research. The national program would work in two ways. First, a student would obtain a Ph.D. degree in nutrition or food science. Then he or she would enter a postdoctoral laboratory in a complementary discipline that is not located in a nutrition or food science department. The research program of the laboratory chosen as the site for postdoctoral training and the fellow's research topic should have a clear relation to the nutrition or food sci- ences. (Benefits of the student's training in nutrition or food science to the postdoctoral training should be identifiable.) In this scenario, the stu- dent gets training in nutrition or food science during the Ph.D. program and advanced training in a complementary discipline during the postdoctoral program. Formal instruction during the postdoctoral period would be as required to support the approved research project. In the second scheme, a student would obtain sound academic and research training in a supporting discipline (e.g., molecular biology, physi- cal anthropology, or engineering). The student would then select a postdoctoral
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936 OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES laboratory within a department or program in nutrition or food science. As expected from the first scheme, anticipated benefits of the student's doctoral training should be evident from the application. In this second scheme, formal instruction in nutrition or food science would be required. In nutrition, such courses should emphasize experimental nutrition and systems physiology; in food science, they should emphasize food engineer- ing and food chemistry. If the national program proved successful, it might be possible to establish training programs on an institutional level. These would involve formal agreements between institutions to provide pre- or postdoctoral training, or both, on a reciprocal basis or interinstitutional training pro- grams. Such local programs could take advantage of special training envi- ronments or research emphases to recruit students with specific interests. CONCLUDING REMARKS In this chapter, we have made recommendations to attract motivated and achievement-oriented students to the nutrition and food sciences and improve their education and training at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Implementing them should increase the pool of competent, suc- cessful investigators whose research advances these disciplines. The fu- ture vitality of the nutrition and food sciences also depends on sufficient financial resources from government, industry, and private nonprofit or- ganizations to support research, education, ant! training of students and the institutions where these activities take place. We turn to these topics in Chapter S.
Representative terms from entire chapter: