Multidisciplinary Foundation of Food and Nutritional Science

Although the work of food scientists has expanded and improved our food supply, many new challenges remain. Collaboration among engineers, microbiologists, molecular biologists, food scientists, and nutritionists is needed to create foods that are nutritious, palatable, and safe. Thus, nutritionists and food scientists must engage in interdisciplinary efforts with each other and with basic biological and social scientists.

Research in the biological sciences shows that some nutrients play key roles in regulating metabolism. Future efforts to identify nutrient-gene interactions will require the attention of nutritionists well trained in molecular, cellular, and integrative biology. 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 human behavior, economics, epidemiology, anthropology, and political science. Interdisciplinary efforts among nutritionists and behavioral and social 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, sociology, or political science.

SOURCE: National Research Council. 1994b. Opportunities in the Nutrition and Food Sciences. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

of public support for extension. The sense of the committee is that such programs could be strengthened, however, through a fuller utilization of the land grant university's resources in building the science base for nonfarm programs, stronger contributions from the social science disciplines, and synergies with related public service programs of other (non-USDA) federal agencies where there is much additional pertinent expertise. Strengthening these programs requires a commitment from the land grant university as a whole, as well as from the college of agriculture and its extension service. Such a commitment provides the university the opportunity to enhance its role in public service. The committee therefore offers the following set of three recommendations:

RECOMMENDATION 15. Extension programs must be underpinned by an academic research base in the land grant university. Consequently, the committee strongly encourages land grant universities to embrace the mandate of outreach and extension and to ensure that the entire university is accessible and responsive as the research base for farm and nonfarm extension programs. To accomplish this, administrative structures, incentives, and reward recognition must be generated within the university to promote the commitment and involvement of faculty, staff, and administrators across the university to actively participate in outreach, extension, and public service.

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