PhD in Nutrition & Metabolism

Nutrition scientists apply the tools of physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics, as well as epidemiology and social sciences, to questions that are important for understanding the impact of nutrition on human health. The PhD in Nutrition & Metabolism program provides students with core knowledge of nutrition and then focuses on training them to conduct original, nutrition-related research. Students can tailor your coursework and research experience to pursue their interests.

The doctoral program in Nutrition & Metabolism will provide you with core knowledge of the biomedical sciences through the FiBS curriculum and then apply this knowledge to the study of nutrition and metabolism in health and disease. Unlike a degree in biochemistry, students also acquire knowledge of translational research at clinical and population-based levels.

To see program highlights and faculty and additional information on research programs, please visit the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences Nutrition & Metabolism website.


All applications are centralized and must go through the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS).

Program Requirements

Required Courses for the PhD

  • GMS FC 701 Protein Structure, Catalysis, and Interactions (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 702 The Genome (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 703 Cell Dynamics and Architecture (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 704 Cell Communication (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 706 Molecular Metabolism (2 cr)
  • GMS NU 755 Molecular, Biochemical and Physiologic Bases of Nutrition I: Energy Balance and Micronutrients (4 cr)
  • GMS NU 756 Molecular, Biochemical and Physiologic Bases of Nutrition: Macronutrients (4 cr)
  • GMS NU 620 Clinical Nutrition Research (3 cr)
  • GMS NU 700 Nutrition and Metabolism Seminar Class (2 cr)
  • GMS NU 901, 902 Research in Nutrition and Metabolism (var)

Elective Courses

Electives may be selected from the many course offerings in GMS according to individual interests and goals (after consulting with your advisor). Students focusing on nutritional epidemiology should select more advanced courses in epidemiology and biostatistics in consultation with their advisor. Similarly, students focusing on metabolism should select electives in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics/genomics, and physiology.

The following electives are recommended as options, depending on student’s interest:

  • GMS CI 640 Regulatory & Compliance Issues (4 cr)
  • GMS CI 670 Biostatistics with Computer (4 cr)
  • GMS CI 671 Intermediate Biostatistics with Computer (4 cr)
  • GMS FC 705 Translational Genetics and Genomics (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 707 Physiology of Specialized Cells (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 709/NU 709 Research Design and Statistical Methods for Biomedical Sciences (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 762 Critical Thinking in Biomedical Research (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 701 Genetics & Epidemiology of Human Disease (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 703 Cancer Biology and Genetics (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 710 Molecules to Molecular Therapeutics: The Translation of Molecular Observations to Clinical Implementation (4 cr)
  • GMS PH 730 Human Physiology: A Cellular and Organ Physiology
  • SAR HS 776 Nutritional Epidemiology (4 cr)
  • SPH EP 713 Introduction to Epidemiology (3 cr)

Faculty and Research Programs

Research interests of our faculty (a full list of faculty is below) focus on the role of nutrition and nutrient metabolism in the pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases from basic, clinical, and epidemiological perspectives.

Nutrient signaling in obesity/diabetes

  • Adipocyte biology (Corkey, Farmer, Fried, Kandror, Pilch, Puri)
  • Islet biology/insulin secretion (Corkey, Shirihai)
  • Muscle metabolism/exercise (Ruderman)

Clinical/Translational research

  • Obesity, diets, and weight loss (Apovian, Fried, Istfan)
  • Interventions to prevent sarcopenia of aging, e.g., dietary protein (Apovian, Moore)
  • Dietary factors and childhood obesity (Bandini, Lenders, Moore, Quatromoni)
  • Vitamin D and health (Holick)

Diet and Chronic Disease–Population Studies

  • Dairy and calcium intake and risk for obesity and its co-morbidities (Moore)
  • Obesity and cardiovascular risk (Moore, Ramachandran)

List of faculty

  • Caroline M. Apovian, MD, FACP, FACN
  • Tamar Aprahmanian, PhD
  • Linda Bandini, PhD
  • John Cook, PhD
  • Barbara Corkey, PhD
  • Stephen R. Farmer, PhD
  • Susan K. Fried, PhD
  • James A. Hamilton, PhD
  • Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD
  • Nawfal W. Istfan, MD, PhD
  • Konstantin V. Kandror, PhD
  • Carine Lenders, MD, ScD
  • Lynn L. Moore, DSc
  • Vishwajeet Puri, PhD
  • Paula A. Quatromoni, DSc, RD
  • Vasan Ramachandran, MD
  • Rahul Ray, PhD
  • Neil Ruderman, MD, PhD
  • Orian S. Shirihai, MD, PhD
  • Keith Tornheim, PhD
  • Mengwei Zang