Nutritional Epidemiology Program

The overall mission of the Nutritional Epidemiology Program is 1) to identify environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors that influence the nutritional status and requirements of the elderly, and 2) to determine the role of nutritional status in healthy aging and the development of chronic disease and age-related impairments such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), dementia, type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), cataract and maculopathy. Our mission will be achieved through the application of epidemiological methods and community-based investigation of aging population samples.

Lab Objectives
1. Using an epidemiologic approach, investigate the role of foods and food components such as carbohydrates sources (e.g., whole grains, sugar sweetened beverages), selected nutrients (e.g., folate, vitamin B12, magnesium), other bioactive food components (e.g., flavonoids, carotenoids), healthy dietary patterns (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Mediterranean Diet) and gene-diet interactions in preventing age-related conditions such as weight gain, inflammation, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer, cognitive decline, musculoskeletal disorders, and kidney disease.

2. Using an epidemiologic approach, examine the health effects of high folic acid intakes and the interaction between high folic acid intake and vitamin B12 status to investigate safe upper limits for intake of folic acid in older individuals.

3. Using an experimental approach, conduct separate food-based intervention studies to examine the impact of dietary modification with individual foods (including whole grain, dietary fiber, added sugar, and fermented dairy) on weight change and ectopic fat depots, microbiota or intermediate metabolic markers of disease risk.

Lab Members
Paul F. Jacques, D.Sc., Lab Director
Senior Scientist and Professor
Research focus: flavonoids, B vitamins, whole grains, diet patterns and diet quality, and their relation to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease cognitive impairment

Nicola McKeown, Ph.D.
Scientist I and Associate Professor
Research focus: Health benefits of whole-grains; application of biomarkers of whole-grain intake in epidemiological studies; role of sugar sweetened beverages on cardiometabolic risk factors; diet-gene interactions and diabetes risk

Adela Hruby, Ph.D., MPH
Scientist II
Research Focus: Population-based research in dietary drivers of cardiometabolic disease.

Gail Rogers, M.A., Senior Statistician
Kara Livingston Staffier, M.P.H., Sr. Project & Data Manager

Adjunct Members
Johanna T. Dwyer, D.Sc., R.D.

Adjunct Scientist and Professor
Research focus: food flavonoids; dietary risk factors for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and obesity in aging

Lisa Troy, Ph.D., Adjunct Scientist
Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D.
, Adjunct Scientist
Fang Fang Zhang, Ph.D., Adjunct Scientist

PhD Trainees
Hiya Almahmassani, M.S., MPH

Naglaa El-Abbadi, MPH
Research interests: dietary patterns from an environmental sustainability perspective; how changes can be made to simultaneously enhance diet quality for nutritional health and lessen environmental impact.

Danielle Haslam, M.A., M.S.
Research interests: gene-diet interactions and cardiometabolic risk, diet quality and development of age-related diseases.

Micaela Karlsen, MSPH
Research interests: popular dietary patterns and health outcomes, obesity, and factors that promote adherence to dietary patterns.
Click here to go to the ADAPT Study.

Caleigh Sawicki, M.S., MPH
Research interests: health benefits of whole grains.

Esra’ Shishtar, M.S.
Research interests: dietary flavonoid intake and cognitive function; exploring the impact of various classes of flavonoids on different stages of cognitive decline in older adults.


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