January 20, 2022

VUMC to support $170 million NIH nutrition research initiative

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced it will award $170 million over five years to clinics and centers across the country to study individual responses to food and dietary routines and develop electronic algorithms to support personalized nutrition recommendations.

The program, called Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH), will recruit a diverse pool of 10,000 participants who are part of the NIH’s All of Us Research Program, established in 2016. In all, the initiative includes 11 new NIH research awards and additional funds to three existing NIH All of Us awards.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, home to the All of Us Data and Research Center, will receive a five-year, $3 million grant under the new initiative.

Paul Harris, PhD
Paul Harris, PhD

“The Data and Research Center will be responsible for establishing and maintaining operational ties between NPH study sites and the larger All of Us program, including eventual release of data from the new program to researchers through our Researcher Hub and Workbench,” said Paul Harris, PhD, professor of Biomedical Informatics and principal investigator for the Data and Research Center.

To develop a more complete picture of how individuals respond to different foods or dietary routines, the initiative will collect data on potential predictive factors and combine that with existing data in the All of Us database, or Researcher Workbench, as it’s called.

Participant data currently collected by All of Us includes genomics, linked electronic health records, and

Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS

linked survey data, such as information on daily life experiences, family health and more.

Pediatric obesity researcher Shari Barkin, MD, MSHS, professor of Pediatrics, will serve as lead scientific adviser and nutrition content expert for the project from the Data and Research Center.

“Nutrition is the bedrock of good health, but the same recommendations for everyone misses the opportunity to get to better outcomes,” Barkin said. “Given its data inclusivity and sheer scale, this new program from the NIH has potential to advance our understanding of individualized precision nutrition as few other population studies ever have.”

Other principal investigators for the All of Us Data and Research Center include Dan Roden, MDCM, professor of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Personalized Medicine at VUMC, Anthony Philippakis, MD, PhD, of Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and David Glazer of Verily Life Sciences in Redwood City, California. The NPH study is supported by the NIH Common Fund (3U2COD023196-04S2).