DNS Research

Nutritional Sciences Graduate Program: Ph.D., Molecular Nutrition

Graduate Molecular Nutrition Program

Cornell's graduate program in Molecular Nutrition integrates a range of disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genetics, neurobiology and developmental and reproductive biology to investigate the basic biological processes involving nutrition and its roles in health and disease. The program offers a flexible curriculum enabling students to tailor their academic programs to their academic backgrounds, research interests, and future career plans. The research opportunities are extensive and diverse. Students can obtain direct experience in many experimental methodologies including classical biochemistry, transgenics, and mass spectrometry.


Students receiving degrees from the Program in Molecular Nutrition go on to academic and research positions in universities, private research institutions, government agencies, and private industries. In addition to the basic and applied sciences, students may initiate careers in public policy, translating research results into policy and other appropriate actions.


Study is directed by a Special Committee made up of your research advisor in the Molecular Nutrition concentration, faculty representing the other Graduate Fields of your minor area(s) of study, and an appointed member representing the Field of Nutrition. Genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology are common minor fields of study chosen by students who concentrate in Molecular Nutrition.

Research Areas

Nutritional Biochemistry: Nutritional biochemistry is concerned with the properties of nutrients and other dietary constituents and the study of their biochemical, metabolic, physiological and epigenetic functions. An important focus is the application of knowledge in nutritional biochemistry to the synergistic relationships among diet, health and disease susceptibility. Students are exposed to an integrative curriculum in nutritional biochemistry and may take foundations courses in the basic biological, chemical and physical sciences. Most students complete a minor in biochemistry or molecular biology.

Nutritional Genomics: Nutrition genomics is concerned with genome-nutrient interactions including the role of nutrients and dietary components in regulation of genome structure, expression and stability and the role of genetic variation on individual nutrient requirements. Research in nutritional genomics relies on genetic technology and models including development and use of transgenic mice, microarray technologies for expression profiling, and human population genetics. Most students complete a minor in genetics.

Nutritional Metabolomics: Nutritional metabolomics is concerned with metabolic pathways and networks and includes regulation of metabolic pathways and networks by nutrients and other food components and the establishment of analytical methods that profile human serum and urinary metabolites to assess nutritional imbalances and disease risk. Most students complete a minor in biochemistry or molecular biology.

Maternal Nutrition/Fetal Development/Epigenetics: An important focus of research in our program is the relationships among maternal nutrition and fetal development at the molecular level including how maternal nutritional status regulates fetal gene expression ("metabolic imprinting") and identifying the consequences of such imprinting throughout life of the offspring.


The Division of Nutritional Sciences occupies space in Savage/Kinzelberg Hall and Martha Van Renssalaer Hall. The program in Molecular Nutrition is largely housed in Savage/Kinzelberg Hall. The Kinzelberg wing contains three floors of wet laboratory space including cell culture facilities, and the basement floor houses a computing facility and mass spectrometry laboratory. A new metabolic core facility for work with human subjects is located in Martha Van Renssalaer Hall. Graduate student and faculty offices and a graduate reading room are located in the Savage wing near to the laboratory space.

Other facilities available for campus-wide use include:

The Cornell Core Transgenic Mouse Facility facilitates the production and study of gain-of-function and loss-of-function transgenic mice on campus. The facility consists of a SPF colony and a Transgenic Core Facility that offers centralized services for nuclear injection of DNA into fertilized oocytes and ES cell injections into blastocysts.

The Biotechnology Resource Center provides automated DNA and peptide synthesis, amino acid analysis and sequencing, computerized protein DNA and RNA sequence analysis, matrix-assisted laser desorption mass spectrometry and fluorescence imaging, confocal microscopy and video microscopy services.

The Microarray Core Facility provides Affymetrix GeneChip array instruments, a custom array system, and related bioinformatics tools, including software for image acquisition and data analysis.

The Cornell Integrated Microscopy Center offers instructional and research services in microscopy and is equipped for light microscopy and electron microscopy.

The Immunopathology and Molecular Pathology Laboratory provides support in immunohistochemical techniques including in situ hybridization and TUNEL assays, and cryosectioning.

The Cancer Protein Expression Laboratory provides state-of-the-art equipment for large scale expression and purification of recombinant proteins.

The Macromolecular Diffraction Facility at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (MacCHESS) is used by investigators throughout the world for research on novel applications of synchrotron radiation to problems involving physical biochemistry and biomedical research. Its specialties include multiple wavelength anomalous diffraction (MAD), ultrahigh resolution X-ray diffraction and the development of new apparatus and techniques.

The Cornell Theory Center provides high-performance computing resources to advance and facilitate research in a broad spectrum of scientific and engineering fields at Cornell. Its Computational Biology Service Unit group provides software and hardware support for computational biology applications as well as assistance in the design and implementation of computational solutions.

Director of Graduate Studies Field of Nutrition Graduate Admissions Committee B19 Savage Hall Cornell University Ithaca , NY 14853-6301 or e-mail to: nutrition_gfr@cornell.edu Telephone: (607) 255-2628 Fax: (607) 255-1033