Welcome to the newly established Personalized Nutrition Initiative, a campus-wide initiative under the leadership of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation in partnership with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at Illinois.
Personalized nutrition offers a way to optimize human health and the quality of life by tailoring recommendations based not only on diet history and phenotype, but also on an individual’s genetics, microbiome, and metabolome. It encompasses almost all known aspects of science, ranging from the genomes of humans, plants, and microorganisms, to the highest levels of analytical sciences, computing, and statistics of large systems, as well as human behavior. Personalized nutrition was identified as a key area for strategic investment in the 2018-2023 University of Illinois Strategic Plan and is also a key focus on the National Institutes of Health 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for Nutrition.
To meet this challenge, the Personalized Nutrition Initiative will facilitate transdisciplinary collaborative efforts across campus to answer fundamental questions regarding how nutrition modulates health and disease across the lifespan and to translate that information to clinical care and the public. The University of Illinois is uniquely positioned to advance this field due to our long-standing international leadership in human, plant and animal nutrition, engineering, and computer science, coupled with the emerging strengths in microbial systems biology, bioengineering, and medicine. Bringing expertise in bioengineering, engineering, and computer science to bear on nutrigenomic systems biology (e.g. biosensors for monitoring biomarkers, analysis of large datasets, and novel data visualization) could more rapidly advance the field and would put a decidedly “Illinois” stamp on the approach. Social and behavioral scientists will also be key to providing insights into the different ways individuals, groups, and institutions make decisions, exercise power, and respond to change in areas pertinent to personalized nutrition.