Research and Development

<< Nutritional Sciences

Research and Development

There are several focus areas of research and development in nutritional sciences. A few examples are listed below:

Effects of Dietary Compounds on Cancer Growth and Development

There are several substances that have been found to increase the risk of developing cancer. However, researchers have also been busy searching for ways in which to prevent this disease. For example, research studies on cruciferous vegetables suggest that they contain certain chemicals with anti-cancer properties (http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/broccoli ). Also, the Institute for Obesity Research and Program Evaluation is contributing to the scientific community with recent studies on red wine polyphenolics in the prevention of colon cancer (http://orin.tamu.edu/research/wine/ )

Evaluating the Effects of Public Health Education Programs

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides low-income women and children with nutritional food, education, and support. It is maintained by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Evaluation of the effectiveness of these programs allows administrators to find areas of improvement and the best educational strategies to use for the benefits of public health. The Texas WIC Kiosk Evaluation Project is an example for health education evaluation (http://orin.tamu.edu/wic-kiosk/ )

Effects of Trace Elements on Living Systems

Trace elements are naturally occurring chemicals in water, wildlife, soil, and plants. They are sometimes known as micronutrients because they are necessary to sustain life. The properties and health benefits of some trace elements is still unknown. Researchers continue to investigate the negative and positive effects of these chemicals.

Food Safety

Scientists and other public health personnel continually develop and evaluate food safety programs. These programs reduce or eliminate food-borne diseases both nationally and internationally. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is just one example of where a researcher in this area may be found. To learn more about scientific positions and the work of this agency, visit: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Careers/Scientific_Positions/index.asp

Monitoring Food Supply Nutrients and Population Dietary Intake

The USDA BHNDL provides data on the nutrient composition of foods consumed in the United States through the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. This copyright-free database is available for download by anyone online. It is used by the general public, policymakers, researchers, food companies, and even other countries! Private and public food companies may use the Standard Reference information to calculate values and provide accurate information in nutrition facts labels. The USDA BHNDL tracks changes in the food supply, in order to stay up to date on food products that are on and off the market, by using annual data from the USDA BHNRC national “What We Eat in America” survey and other sources.

Diet-Induced Disease

Diabetes and obesity are two examples of disease largely affected by nutritional health. Research from a nutritional science aspect on this type of disease is the key to prevention or management in several instances. To learn about research in diabetes or obesity, visit the American Diabetes Association (http://www.diabetes.org/ ) or the Institute for Obesity Research and Program Evaluation (http://orin.tamu.edu/ ).

Monitoring Food Supply Nutrients and Population Dietary Intake

The USDA BHNDL provides data on the nutrient composition of foods consumed in the United States through the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. This copyright-free database is available for download by anyone online. It is used by the general public, policymakers, researchers, food companies, and even other countries! Private and public food companies may use the Standard Reference information to calculate values and provide accurate information in nutrition facts labels. The USDA BHNDL tracks changes in the food supply, in order to stay up to date on food products that are on and off the market, by using annual data from the USDA BHNRC national “What We Eat in America” survey and other sources.

Nutritional Development in Children

In order to provide the best nutritional guidelines for optimal development in growing individuals, researchers must investigate metabolism and essential nutrients in children. The knowledge gained in this field can be used by physicians, parents, and all others who are involved in childcare. Nutritional guidelines are also used in the development of new food products. Researchers that are focused on studying metabolism and nutrient requirements in children may also be providing information that is useful in preventing disease, such as obesity. Learning about the health risks, trends, and the types of people pre-disposed to such diseases allows for disease prevention and improved treatment methods. The USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center is one of several human nutrition centers in the country. To learn more on this topic, visit their website at http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/?PMID=0

 

The following career titles involve research and development in nutritional sciences:

Food Scientist and Technologist

Food scientists and technologists use a variety of methods to study the content of food. They use the information that they find to develop new food products or improve the value, production, packaging, and selection of existing food products. Aside from being involved in food production, a food scientist’s career may also involve regulatory responsibilities. They may evaluate methods used in food production facilities to make sure that food safety standards are met, and enforce regulations when necessary. Other activities may include discovering new sources of food, testing for contaminants or harmful additives, and more!

Education: A bachelor’s degree is necessary for entry-level positions in this field, such as food technologist. Research scientists typically earn a PhD degree.

Useful Resources:

Food Science Technician

Food science technicians, also known as food analysts, provide assistance to food scientists and technologists in their research. They perform standardized tests for quality assurance, quality control, and content analysis of food products. Food Science Technicians compile and maintain data obtained from their laboratory tests. Technicians analyze results in order to classify products and samples or compare results with standard tables. They ensure that food products and packaging meet required specifications. Food technicians may be responsible for preparing reports based on their results. Technicians are involved in cleaning and maintaining laboratory equipment.

Education: Food Science Technicians are generally required to have a bachelor’s degree in a life science. Knowledge of biological, chemical, and analytical research techniques is useful, as well as proper health and sanitation standards.

Useful Resources:

Clinical Research Coordinator

A clinical research coordinator oversees all operational responsibilities of a clinical study, or trial. Clinical research coordinators work under the direct supervision of a physician investigator or clinical trial associate. Coordinators are responsible for human resources duties involving staff members, such as payroll, training, and terminations. Research coordinators participate in recruiting and enrolling participants for the study. They are also involved in developing standard operating procedures of site; ensuring compliance with all government regulations. Clinical research coordinators may also be responsible for preparing study results and data. 

Education: A bachelor’s degree is required for positions in this field. However, many employers require graduate level education, mainly master’s degrees. Certification through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals may be preferred.

Useful Resources:

Dietitian/Nutritionist

Dietitians and nutritionists provide nutritional diet plans to their clients. These plans are intended to help people meet a nutritional goal and meet a healthy lifestyle. Dietitians and nutritionists can help their clients prevent or control illnesses through nutritional programs that are modified to meet an individual’s specific needs.

Clinical dietitians - work in clinical settings such as hospitals or nursing homes. In healthcare facilities, they work closely with physicians and other medical specialists to coordinate food menus and nutritional plans for patients. Clinical dietitians are responsible for maintaining patients’ nutritional records and writing reports.

Nutritionists and dietitians - may be responsible for managing food service departments such as school or hospital cafeterias. In this type of work setting, job responsibilities include overseeing large-scale nutritional programs and other employees. Managerial duties could also include budget planning, obtaining food supplies, and enforcing safety regulations.

Community dieticians - can work in fitness centers, corporate health and wellness programs, or public health clinics. Their nutritional programs are geared towards educating different types of community members, from children to the elderly. They are also involved in evaluating the effectiveness of the information they provide to the public.

Education: A bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences or related field is the minimum requirement for a job position in this field. Candidates must also fulfill required internship or supervised practice hours. To become a registered dietitian, students must also pass a national registration exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. In order to maintain RD certification, dietitians have to complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years. States may have additional requirements for licensure. Many dietitians have advanced educational degrees.

Useful Resources: