Past Events


Tuesday, 11/14/2023, Noon to 1:00 PM, Room 612
Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Engineering the Metabolic Outputs of the Human Gut Microbiome Through Microbial Community-Scale Metabolic Modeling

Sean Gibbons, PhD, Washington Research Foundation Distinguished Investigator at the Institute for Systems Biology, University of Washington

2023 Personalized Nutrition Innovation Day
October 3-4, 2023, Urbana, IL

Our annual event was held on October 3-4, 2023 on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. This included an Innovation Day with oral and poster presentations, an External Partners Program meeting, an External Advisory Committee meeting, and opportunities for customized tours of campus facilities and meetings with researchers.

See Event Booklet and Agenda for information about the presenters and the October 2023 Newsletter for photos from the event.


  • Welcome
  • Session 1: Data and Technology Opportunities in Personalized Nutrition
  • Session 2: Accelerating Personalized Nutrition Through Social & Behavioral Sciences (4 of 5 presentations are included in the recording as Prof. Teran-Garcia’s presentation contained unpublished data)
  • Session 3 – Panel Discussion: Opportunities for Gathering and Leveraging Personalized Nutrition Data

Watch Recording of Seminar: NCSA Panel: Showcasing Collaborations and Resources for PNI Affiliates and Nutrition Researchers

NCSA collaborates with researchers on a broad range of data science activities including computation, data analysis, visualization and software development. The 5-panel members present about these capabilities and provide examples of how PNI affiliates can collaborate with NCSA to help advance their research.

NCSA Panel presentations:

National Center for Supercomputing Applications (Section starts at 0:00 min)
Colleen Bushell, Director, Healthcare Innovation Program Office

Bioinformatic Analysis of Omics Datasets for Strong Kids 2 (Section starts at 4:20 min)
Charles Blatti, Research Scientist in Bioinformatics, Visual Analytics

Visual Analytics/ User Interface & User Experience Group (Section starts at 14:23 min)
Lisa Gatzke, Senior Research User Interface Designer and Team Lead, Visual Analytics

Healthcare Related Projects (Section starts at 27:09 min)
Jessica Saw, Research Scientist in Healthcare Delivery, Visual Analytics

NCSA Resources for Nutrition Researchers (Section starts at 36:18 min)
Maria Jaromin, Senior Research Coordinator, Healthcare Innovation Program office

Watch Recording of Seminar: Understanding the Dynamics of Human Gut Microbiome: From Mechanistic Models to Machine Learning. Capabilities and Expertise at the Center or Artificial Intelligence and Modeling at IGB
April 18, 2023
Sergei Maslov, PhD, Co-Director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Modeling (CAIM) at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, Professor of Bioengineering and Physics, Bliss Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Dr. Maslov has a broad expertise in computational modeling of complex biological systems with particular emphasis on assembly of microbial ecosystems, evolution of bacterial genomes, and dynamics of complex biomolecular networks. He is also interested in applying machine learning techniques to personalized prediction of cancer drug combinations, transcriptional regulatory networks, and microbiome-related projects

Abstract: The human gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem, in which hundreds of microbial species and metabolites coexist, in part due to an extensive network of cross-feeding interactions. To understand the metabolic flow in such multi-level trophic ecosystems we studied a predictive model in which microbes consume and secrete metabolites in multiple iterative steps. This model allowed us to predict the metabolic environment of the gut from its microbial composition [1] and even to reconstruct some of the previously unknown cross-feeding relationships between species [2]. Mechanistic models are naturally complemented by machine learning approaches [3,4] for the development of which we leveraged the expertise of the newly established Center for Artificial Intelligence and Modeling (CAIM) at IGB. I will use the example of this collaboration to discuss how CAIM can help you to achieve your own research goals.

Selected Publications
1. Wang T, Goyal A, Dubinkina V, Maslov S. Evidence for a multi-level trophic organization of the human gut microbiome. PLoS Comp Biol, 2019, 15(12): e1007524.
2. Goyal A, Wang T, Dubinkina V, Maslov S. Ecology-guided prediction of cross-feeding interactions in the human gut microbiome. Nature Commun., 2021, 12, 1335.
3. Wang T, Wang X-W, Lee-Sarwar KA, Litonjua AA, Weiss ST, Sun Y, Maslov S, Liu YY. Predicting metabolomic profiles from microbial composition through neural ordinary differential equations. Nat Mach Intell. 2023; 1–10.
4. Wang T, Holscher HD, Maslov S, Hu FB, Weiss ST, Liu YY. (2023) Predicting metabolic response to dietary intervention using deep learning, bioRxiv 2023 (under review)

Watch Recording of Seminar: Nutritional Metabolomics: Exploring its Use for Expanding Nutrition Knowledge
April 11, 2023
Michael La Frano, PhD, RD, Director, Metabolomics & Proteomics at the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. La Frano has expertise in both untargeted and targeted metabolomics, including development of numerous LC-MS methods and data processing software. His independent research focuses on nutritional metabolomics, including assessment of dietary intake and the impact of nutritional status on health. This work will be complemented by nutritional proteomics in the future. He is an Affiliate of the Personalized Nutrition Initiative at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as well as an Affiliate Member of the metabolomics Quality Assurance & Quality Control Consortium (mQACC).

Dr. La Frano earned a Ph.D. in Nutrition Biology at the University of California, Davis. Subsequently, his postdoctoral fellowship role was as a pilot project scientist for West Coast Metabolomics Center (WCMC) NIH Pilot & Feasibility Project studies as part of the Lipid Mediators Core. He later became a faculty member in the Food Science and Nutrition department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he was an Associate Professor prior to leaving. He also served as Director of the Cal Poly Metabolomics Service Center, which he founded in 2019. He has been a Registered Dietitian for over 15 years, completing his internship at the Loma Linda University Medical Center.

November 16, 2022 (8:00 AM to 7:30 PM)
Personalized Nutrition Innovation Day

This hybrid event was hosted by the Personalized Nutrition Initiative at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. All presentations were held in the Monsanto Multimedia Studio, lower level (#008) of the ACES Library, Information, and Alumni Center.


  • Welcome
  • Session 1: Current State of Personalized Nutrition – Academic, Therapeutic, and Public-Private Partnerships with keynote speaker, José Ordovas.
  • Session 2: Personalized Nutrition Initiative Seed Grant Funded Research (3 of 4 presentations included in the recording as Prof. Madak-Erdogan’s presentation contained unpublished data)
  • Session 3: Innovation in Personalized Nutrition Technologies for Monitoring and Data Collection
  • Session 4: Industry Needs and Barriers to Innovation

See the Agenda for list of presenters and the November Newsletter for photos from the event.

November 16, 2021, 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM CT – Virtual
Personalized Nutrition Initiative at Illinois
2021 Symposium: Inter-Individual Differences in Nutrition Responses

June 28-29, 2021
Personalized Nutrition Innovation Summit
Closing remarks by Professor Sharon Donovan

June 24, 2021
Today’s Dietitian Webinar
Personalized Nutrition – Where Emerging Science Meets Consumers’ Health Needs
Sponsored by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills
Current and Emerging Science and Technologies within Personalized Nutrition – Professor Sharon Donovan

June 22-24, 2021
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Origins and Benefits of Biologically Active Components in Human Milk Conference
Meet-the-Expert Session: “Human Milk Research – A Combined Effort to Improve Maternal Infant Health” – with Professor Sharon Donovan

June 15-16, 2021
International Milk Genomics Conference 

Bovine Lactoferrin Stimulates Neonatal Gastrointestinal and Immune Development in Piglets – Professor Sharon Donovan

June 15-17, 2021
Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences 2021 Annual Meeting 
Personalized Nutrition — the Research and Academic Perspective– Professor Sharon Donovan

June 7-11, 2021
Nutrition 2021
Personalized Nutrition – Where Emerging Science Meets Consumers’ Health Needs (Sponsored Satellite Program)
Current and Emerging Science and Technologies within Personalized Nutrition – Professor Sharon Donovan

Personalized Nutrition Seminar Series- Spring 2021

The Personalized Nutrition Initiative has organized the Division of Nutritional Science’ “Frontiers in Nutritional Sciences Seminar Series” on the topic of Personalized Nutrition –Challenges and Opportunities. Seminars will be via Zoom at 4-5 PM on Wednesdays. The seminar series will feature external experts as well as research being conducted by our faculty and students across campus. Spring 2021 seminar schedule.

Recordings are now available to watch the earlier Spring 2021 seminars (click on the seminar title to access each individual seminar):

Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD
Professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health
Director, Personalized Nutrition Initiative
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Seminar Title: Personalized Nutrition –Challenges and Opportunities

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
José Ordovás PhD
Professor of Nutrition and Genetics, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Lead Scientist & Senior Scientist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA
Seminar Title: Precision Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Traits

Monday, February 15, 2021
Steven Zeisel, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Director, UNC Nutrition Research Institute, Kannapolis, NC, Founder of SNP Therapeutics
Seminar Title: Precision Nutrition: Lessons from Studies on the Nutrient Choline

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada
Seminar Title:The Portfolio Diet for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: From Evidence to Guidelines to Practice

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Joshua C Anthony PhD, MBA
Founder and CEO, Nlumn, LLC, Princeton, NJ
Seminar Title:Dr. Hindsight’s Guide to Commercializing Personal Nutrition: Lessons Learned from Launching and Selling Habit
*This seminar was co-sponsored by the Institute for Genomic Biology Fox Family Lecture Series in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Luis Perez, BS
Nutritional Sciences Doctoral Candidate advised by Dr. Ken Wilund, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Seminar Title: Dietary Interventions and Strategies to Reduce Sodium Consumption and Volume Overload in Hemodialysis Patients

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Holly Nicastro, PhD, MPH

Program Director, Precision Nutrition Research, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH
Seminar Title:Precision Nutrition in the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research

Monday March 22, 2021
Eunice Santos, PhD
Professor and Dean, School of Information Sciences (iSchool), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Seminar Title: Socio-Cultural Modeling in Health Sciences

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Brian Cunningham, PhD
Intel Alumni Endowed Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Bioengineering
Director, Center for Genomic Diagnostics, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Seminar Title: Biosensor Diagnostics: Transitioning from Personalized Medicine to Personalized Nutrition

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Krista Varady, PhD
Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois, Chicago
Seminar Title: Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Saurabh Sinha, PhD
Founder Professor and Willett Faculty Scholar, Department of Computer Science,
Cancer Center of Illinois, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Seminar Title: Data Analytics and Personalized Nutrition: Opportunities at Illinois

September 29, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Recording of the IGB Science Chat: Personalized Nutrition Initiative at Illinois

  • Sharon Donovan, PhD, Director, Personalized Nutrition Initiative
  • Professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Diet and Health, University of Illinois
  • Hannah Holscher, PhD, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, University of Illinois
  • Naiman Khan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois