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Kumar studies the role of bacterial protein in curing viral diarrhea

Matam Vijay-Kumar

Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor, co-authored a study suggesting the bacterial product flagellin could cure viral diarrhea.

Specifically, in findings published in the Nov. 14 issue of Science, the researchers described that activation of the innate immune system with the bacterial protein flagellin could prevent and cure rotavirus infection, which is amongst the most common causes of severe diarrhea.

The research, which was spearheaded by Andrew Gewirtz and Benyue Zhang of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, included collaborators at Emory University School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Genentech Inc.

Vijay-Kumar has been studying flagellin for more than a decade. Read more about the role of bacterial protein in curing viral diarrhea.

Mark McCamish named Alumni Fellow

Mark McCamish, M.D., Ph.D, ’80g NUTR Global Head, Biopharmaceutical and Oncology Injectable Development, Sandoz International was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow and received the award at a ceremony this fall. He presented the College of Health and Human Development Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series lecture on “Biosimilars: A Biologic Drug Revolution.”

 A Biologic Drug Revolution

Faculty News and Recognition

Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor, presented the 2014 Schmitt Russell Lecture Oct. 30. Her presentation was entitled, “The Journey to Healthy Eating: Identifying Dietary Patterns that Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases."

Xiang Gao, associate professor, was awarded an R21 grant “Statins, Statin-Related Gene, and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) risk” by the NIH/NINDS. In this project, he will examine the potential effects of specific statins on PD risk among about 170,000 active participants in the Nurses' Health Study, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study during 10 years of follow-up between 2004 and 2014. He will also examine the interaction between use of statins and genes associated with statin responsiveness, in relation to PD risk.

Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the department, gave invited lectures on malnutrition, inflammation, and anti-inflammatory interventions at the FELANPE Nutrition Congress in Buenos Aires, Oct. 27-29.

Barbara Lohse, research professor, received the Anita Owen Award for Innovation in Nutrition Education of the Public from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. She was recognized at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia.

A. Catharine Ross

A. Catharine Ross

A. Catharine Ross, professor and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, along with Michael H. Green, professor and colleagues, probe the link between newborn health and vitamin A.

The impact Vitamin A has on newborns is virtually unknown, but Penn State nutrition researchers have published two papers that may provide a framework for future investigations of the vitamin and neonatal health:

Lynn Parker Klees, instructor, was an invited speaker at the 2014 PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics AME in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The title of her talk was “New Science-Implications for Diabetes Management.”

Chandlee Lab celebrates 7th annual Halloween event

The seventh annual Halloween event was a huge success. The Department added a United Way lunch fundraiser this year. Wonderful homemade soups and pies were served for a donation; $325 was raised for United Way. The tradition of a door-decorating contest continued with Jennifer Savage Williams and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Transdisciplinary Training group winning with their spooky door entry. New this year was the addition of the Nittany Mountain Trail Rides Hay Ride Band featuring Earl Hughes and David Powell.

Sports Nutrition athlete fueling stations unveiled

After years of controlling what food athletes could be given, the NCAA is now allowing university athletic programs to not only provide meals for their athletes, but offer them supplemental foods to support their energy needs for long daily practices. Nationwide, fueling stations are springing up at every Big Ten, Big East and SEC school as a new attraction to the athletic program.

Penn State launched its “fueling station” program for student athletes Oct. 29. The purpose of the program is to provide supplemental calories so athletes are fueled and ready for practice and can obtain high-quality post-practice supplements to assure optimal recovery after practice. Funding is through Penn State Intercollegiate athletics and is the first stage of what will be a gradual rollout of a larger fueling program for our 850 varsity athletes. The fueling stations are located in the two sports nutrition offices, the athletic training rooms, all individual team locker rooms, and on site where the athletes workout. The goal is to provide foods from all five food groups and to select whole foods whenever possible.

Independent study students as part of NUTR 496, Nicole Andler, Liz Elberfeld, Stephanie Hickey, and Lauren Mills, are assisting in placing food orders, stocking shelves, and filling food orders for the 31 varsity sports programs.

Students who take NUTR 407 (Nutrition for Exercise and Sports) are eligible to apply to become independent study student in sports nutrition. The independent study course is led by Kristine Clark, director of sports nutrition and assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Student Nutrition Association Update

Student Nutrition Association

The Student Nutrition Association (SNA) has gotten off to a great start this year! We have had new initiatives including a partnership with Life Link, in which SNA members teach short nutrition lessons to special needs students; Career Night, in which several local professionals were invited to give their insights and advice on working in the field; and participation in the Centre County Community Super Fair (see the picture of our display on portion sizes). We have also continued some familiar favorites such as the Halloween Trick-or-Treat dessert exchange and the Peer Mentoring Program.

One SNA member said about her experience as a mentor, "I am so glad I took part in this because I not only made a new friend but I get to give them guidance, support, and instruction so they will succeed in experiences I have already partaken in." Contact vice president Lindsey Mawhew at if you are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor.

Faculty Searches

Nutrigenomics / Health Disparities
Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences (2 openings)

As part of the cluster hire in Health Disparities, the Department of Nutritional Sciences invites applications for two tenure track Assistant Professor faculty positions, one in nutritional epidemiology with a focus on the application of nutrigenomics to population research (domestic or international) and a second in nutrigenomics with a focus on mechanistic investigations. Research themes of interest broadly include the effects of foods, bioactive food components, and nutrients on gene expression in relation to health outcomes and disease risk throughout the lifespan. Of particular interest are nutritional epigenetic phenomena tied to nutrition risk exposures that are associated with health disparities. These exposures may include under-nutrition, over-nutrition or macro/micronutrient deficiencies or excesses that result in malnutrition, obesity or other adverse health outcomes. Such exposures are strongly associated with disparities due to geography, socioeconomic status and education. Please review the job description for further information.

Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society Updates

Cooper receives John E. Smith Outstanding Senior in Nutrition Award

Morgan Cooper has been selected as the 2014-15 recipient of the John E. Smith Outstanding Senior in Nutrition Award, sponsored by the Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society (NDAS). Congratulations, Morgan, on your outstanding achievements in the classroom, and for your exemplary leadership and community service.

NDAS Alumni Brunch

Mark your calendars. The annual NDAS Brunch will be held on Sunday, March 22, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Assembly Room at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Graduates of the Nutritional Sciences undergraduate program

Congratulations to the Nutritional Sciences graduates who earned their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential this past year.

2013 Graduates

  • Christa Jacobs, RDN
  • Jessica Koeppe, RDN
  • Samantha Pappas, RDN

2012 Graduates

  • Joelle Ference, RDN
  • Heather Lamson, RDN
  • Patricia Casey, RDN

2011 Graduates

  • Kristen (Hudy) Cox, RDN

2011 Graduates

  • Jennifer DAurora, RDN

NDTR credential recipients

Congratulations to the Nutritional Sciences graduates who earned their Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered credential this past year.

  • Kristi Sarcolic, BS NDTR
  • Stefanie Zaino, BS NDTR

Alumni Updates

Carrie Durward ‘12g, is now working as an Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist at Utah State University.

Julie Shlisky ’12g is now with the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Leann Macheese ‘13, (Applied Sciences) is working in the food service department at Reading Health System and was just promoted to the Diet Technician position.

Kristen (Hudy) Cox ‘11, RDN (Applied Sciences) is working as a coordinator for the Penn State University Diet Assessment Center.

If you would like to let alumni and friends know about recent events in your life, please contact Mary Dean Coleman-Kelly at

Department Branding Initiative

The Department is working on its branding rollout event, scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2015. The Ad hoc Branding Committee, under the direction of Laura Murray-Kolb, is planning to have speakers and a reception that afternoon. Further details are forthcoming.

Support the Department of Nutritional Sciences through your Estate Plan

Gift planning can allow you to make a gift of surprising significance to the Department of Nutrition and support your personal and philanthropic objectives – often with increased tax benefits or a current income stream. At the same time, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your gift will provide vital future support for our students, facilities, or programs.

To learn more about securing the future of Department of Nutritional Sciences – as well as the benefits to you, your heirs, and your estate – please visit the Penn State Office of Gift Planning website at or contact Kathleen Rider, director of development, at 814-863-4157 or