NIH Earmarks $170M for the Nutrition for Precision Health Program

Grilled chicken meat and fresh vegetable salad of tomato, avocado, lettuce and spinach. Healthy and detox food concept. Ketogenic diet. Buddha bowl in hands on white background, top view
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Thursday it will award $170 million to a variety of clinics and healthcare centers across the U.S. to help it establish the Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH) program. The new program, a part of the All of US Research Program, will seek to develop algorithms to predict responses to each individual’s diet. The effort will recruit 10,000 people from diverse backgrounds as it looks to create tools to provide individuals with personal dietary recommendations.

The project will provide addition funding to three existing All of Us Research Program participants and also includes 11 new grants. NPH is an NIH-wide effort managed by the NIH Common Fund and is the first independent study to invite diverse participants from the All of Us program. The 14 awards will establish the NPH consortium including six clinical centers, a dietary assessment center, a metabolomics and clinical assays center, a microbiome and metagenomics center, a multimodal data modeling and bioinformatics center, a research coordinating center, and additional support to existing All of Us infrastructure.

“We know that nutrition, just like medicine, isn’t one-size-fits-all,” said Holly Nicastro, Ph.D., a coordinator of NPH in a press release. “NPH will take into account an individual’s genetics, gut microbes, and other lifestyle, biological, environmental, or social factors to help each individual develop eating recommendations that improve overall health.”

Beginning to understand how diet affects an individual’s health and wellness is very complex and involves how the microbiome, metabolism, nutrition, genetics, and the environment all interact to understand how individuals respond to a personalized nutrition regimen. To date, these interactions are still poorly understood.

In order to begin to unravel this, the NPH will seek collect new data on multiple factors related to a person’s diet and environment and combine them with a patient’s existing data held by All of Us. These data will then be made available to researchers to plumb the data for insights on the relationship between wellness, diseases, and a person’s diet.

Of the $170 million committed over five years for NPH, roughly $23 million will go to a partnership between Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences and nonprofit research institute RTI International. Together the two will help lead the study’s Research Coordinating Center.

Speaking of the new project said Dr. Saurabh Mehta, the Janet and Gordon Lankton Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell noted: “Despite the importance of a balanced, nourishing diet, there is no one-size-fits-all approach—more precise and dynamic nutritional recommendations are needed to improve health for individuals….This is much needed for us to be able to come up with tailored guidance on what kind of diet and nutritional status we should be aspiring towards for optimal health and the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.”

The NPH program includes multiple institutes and centers within NIH, including the NIH Common Fund; All of Us Research Program; Office of Nutrition Research; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Cancer Institute; and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

All of Us will contribute existing data from participants who agree to participate in the NPH study, including genomics, linked electronic health records, and survey data, such as information on daily life experiences, family health, and more. These data linkages will power NPH to be one of the largest, most diverse precision nutrition studies to date.

“The All of Us Research Program was designed to support a wide range of studies by providing the infrastructure for a large, diverse data set that has been previously unavailable,” said Josh Denny, M.D., CEO of All of Us in a press release. “We’re delighted that All of Us has a role in advancing in-depth nutrition research and furthering precision nutrition by serving as a platform for this unique initiative.”

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