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Part of the Department of Nutrition Science

The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy offers both Master's and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Nutritional Epidemiology. The program is designed to train students in the design, implementation, and analysis of epidemiologic studies that address questions of dietary intake and nutritional status. Affiliated faculty, selected for their leadership in the fields of both nutrition and epidemiology, impart the highest standard of excellence in education through both teaching and research experiences. The interactive relationship with other programs within the school; with the Tufts University School of Medicine, the Tufts Medical Center, and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, provides a rich environment for collaborative and cross-discipline instruction. Our affiliation with several longitudinal studies, including the Framingham Heart Study, the Normative Aging Study, the Jackson Heart Study, and the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, provides opportunities for direct research experience. Students who complete the Nutritional Epidemiology program will graduate with the necessary analytical, technical, and communication skills required for preeminent research and teaching positions in academics and government.

Why study Nutritional Epidemiology?

The effects of dietary intake and nutritional status on health are complex. Multiple nutrients work together in the body, with differing impacts on different systems and under differing environmental conditions. The effects of dietary intake may be modified or confounded by other exposures, including physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Under-standing and untangling specific effects requires an understanding of the complex interactions among exposures and the technical skills for clarifying them in population-based data. This requires training in nutritional biochemistry, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Although controlled human studies are important to the clarification of specific biologic actions, relationships between behaviors and exposures and health outcome need to be tested in free-living settings, where other factors are not controlled. Results may also vary in different groups and environments. Epidemiologic studies may generate important new ideas about health risks or protective factors, and offer suggestions for public health policy.

What You Will Learn

The curriculum combines traditional academic course work with practical training, so that students acquire an in-depth knowledge in general nutrition, nutritional biochemistry and physiology, biostatistics, and epidemiology. They develop an understanding of how to design and conduct epidemiologic research studies, and gain hands-on experience in essential techniques in data analysis and presentation. Students take most of their academic courses at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and at the School of Medicine. Additional courses in advanced epidemiology are available by cross-registration at Boston University.

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The Nutritional Epidemiology Program leads to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. A full listing of course descriptions is available in the general catalog of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Master of Science

The curriculum includes core courses in the areas of nutrition, biochemistry, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Each student completes a specialization (3-5 courses). A minimum of 16 credits is required for the M.S. degree. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit. The exact number of required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic preparation.

Doctor of Philosophy

Students enrolled in the doctoral program must have completed courses equivalent to the Nutritional Epidemiology master's degree based on previous graduate-level coursework taken either at the Friedman School or elsewhere. Students entering at the Ph.D. level must complete or be exempted from all required courses of the M.S. curriculum. Students in the doctoral program must first pass a written and oral qualifying examination, and then complete and formally defend a doctoral dissertation based on original research.

Combined Degree Programs: MS/MPH

A combined degree program, in association with Tufts University's School of Medicine, leads to the Master of Science and the Master of Public Health. Learn more about this combined degree program.

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Students come from a variety of backgrounds: from biostatistics, epidemiology, nutrition, or biology.

Prerequisites

undergraduate level courses in general nutrition, general biology, general chemistry (with lab), organic chemistry and biochemistry.

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The nutrition core provides students with an understanding of basic and applied nutrition, biostatistics, and nutrition science policy. Courses in these areas reflect the broad science and policy mission of the school. Students entering with an appropriate master's degree may submit requests to waive individual courses or to take exemption exams.

Core

  • Graduation Biochemistry (BCHM 223)
  • Human Physiology (NUTR 208)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Macronutrients (NUTR 370)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Micronutrients (NUTR 371)

Skills

  • Principles of Epidemiology (NUTR 204)
  • Statistical Methods for Nutrition Research (Science) (NUTR 209)
  • Nutrition Epidermiology Journal Club (NUTR 232)
  • Nutritional Epidemiology (NUTR 305)
  • Statistical Methods for Nutrition Research II (NUTR 309)
  • Design of Epidemiologic Studies for Nutrition Research  (NUTR 314)
  • Statistical Methods for Epidemiology  (NUTR 318)

Policy

  • Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy and Programming (NUTR 203)  

Advanced Epidemiology Electives

  • Cardiovascular Epidemiology (MPH 220)
  • Cancer Epidemiology (MPH 222)
  • Infectious Disease Epidemiology (MPH 224)
  • Clinical Epidemiology (MPH 270)
  • Introduction to Meta-analysis (MPH 278)

Program Director

Friedman Faculty - McKeown
Program Director,
Associate Professor

Influence of whole grain consumption on chronic disease risk; dietary risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Name Title General Research
Dallal, Gerard Professor Emeritus

Application of statistical methodology to laboratory experiments and population-based studies of human nutrition,...

Dunn, Julie Visiting Associate Professor

Epidemiologic study design for complex interventions. Nutrition-lifestyle effects on cognitive function

Dwyer, Johanna Adjunct Professor

Flavonoids in food and supplements and chronic disease risk; nutrition and quality of life; nutritional risk factors...

Hruby, Adela Adjunct Instructor

Epidemiology

Jacques, Paul Professor

The role of diet on metabolic markers of diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk, with an emphasis on whole grains...

Must, Aviva Professor

Childhood growth antecedents and adult health outcomes, childhood and adolescent obesity, epidemiology of obesity in...

Ordovas, Jose Professor

Molecular biology, nutrition and genetics; lipoproteins and cardiovascular disease risk

Zhang, Fang Fang Assistant Professor
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Nutritional Epidemiology graduates are prepared to work in agencies and organizations such as:

  • University Departments of Epidemiology or Nutrition
  • Government Agencies such as:
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • National Center for Health Statistics
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Departments of Public Health
  • Research Institutes
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Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Scientists at the HNRCA examine how nutrition impacts healthy aging and the role nutrition plays in preventing diseases of the aging. The HNRCA, which is an independent research facility  located two blocks away from the Friedman school on the Tufts Boston campus, was established in 1977 as a unique partnership between the USDA and the University.  Many of the scientists at the HNRCA’s 20 research labs are also Friedman School faculty.  Friedman students have unique opportunities to conduct research  under the supervision of HNRCA scientists who have international stature in their respective areas of research expertise.

Web site: http://hnrc.tufts.edu

The Tufts Medical Center

Nutrition resources at the Tufts Medical Center include both adult and pediatric clinical programs for hospitalized and ambulatory patients, as well as the Frances Stern Nutrition Center. Tufts Medical Center is the major clinical unit affiliated with the Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center has established a national and international reputation for research, teaching, patient care and graduate and post-graduate education.

Web site: http://www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org

The Boston Obesity/Nutrition Research Center

The Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center is a NIDDK-funded center for obesity and nutrition research. The center was established in 1992 and represents a collaborative program between Tufts Medical Center, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Boston University School of Medicine. The principal themes of the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center include the natural history of obesity; energy metabolism in obese, ill, and healthy subjects; and education and training in obesity.

Web site: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/bnorc/

The Frances Stern Nutrition Center

A subunit in the Division of Endocrinology of the Department of Medicine at Tufts Medical Center, the Frances Stern Nutrition Center is responsible for ambulatory nutrition services at Tufts Medical Center, a satellite nutrition education and resource center at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and several research grants and contracts involving clinical nutrition or nutrition education and information.

Web site: http://www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/OurServices/SpecialServicesandCenters/FrancesSternNutritionCenter