The interdependency between the disciplines of nutrition and immunology have long been appreciated. However, the complex interaction between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems and how they are modulated by environmental factors (nutrients, host-microbial interactions) and a variety of stressors (disease or exercise) have only recently begun to be elucidated. Importantly, it is now known that the inflammatory mechanisms are central to the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases for which diet is used in either the prevention or treatment. To design effective treatments for these debilitating diseases, it is essential that mechanisms underlying the complex interactions between nutritional status and inflammation be elucidated.
Research training will be focused on the regulation of inflammation and cytokine production by environmental factors, and their subsequent effects on food intake, metabolism, and organ function. The training program will be administered by the interdisciplinary Nutritional Sciences graduate program. The Division of Nutritional Sciences is consistently ranked among the top nutrition graduate programs in the U.S and has 33-yr history of training research leaders in academia and industry. Seven faculty members representing four departments with active research programs focused on nutrition and inflammation will provide the core for the training program.
Research training will be complemented by coursework in nutrition, immunology, endocrinology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and molecular biology; weekly seminar series; and attendance and presentation at national and international conferences. The strong research programs of the preceptors, the outstanding reputation of the Nutritional Sciences program and exceptional intellectual environment at the University of Illinois combine to form an ideal climate in which to train future research leaders in this unique interdisciplinary field.