The Illinois Institute of Technology is one of 14 institutions selected as an enrollment site for the National Institutes of Health’s landmark initiative to advance nutrition research. Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH), powered by U.S. all Research Program, is working to engage 10,000 participants from diverse backgrounds across the United States with the goal of learning about how our bodies respond differently to food.
NPH will use artificial intelligence-based approaches to analyze information provided by participants to develop algorithms that predict responses to dietary patterns. The study’s findings may one day allow healthcare providers to offer more customized nutritional guidance to improve overall health.
“Poor diet is one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death around the world. If everyone followed the healthy dietary advice available to us now, we may still not achieve optimal health because our bodies respond differently to food,” said Holly Nicastro, Ph.D., MPH, coordinator of NPH. “Through this study, we seek to better understand differences in individual responses and pave the way for more tailored guidelines in the future.”
Illinois Tech, working with Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, will leverage the existing Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium (IPMC) to help U.S. all Participants in the research program take part in a study of the specific elements of distinctive dietary patterns after assessing people’s usual diet and their body’s response to a standard meal challenge. Comprehensive analysis of people’s blood, urine and their gut microbiome under the various diets – along with factors including genes, lifestyle, health history and the social determinants of health – will feed intensely rich data that will enable AI predictive models to create personalized diet recommendations to reduce public health problems such as obesity, blood pressure control, diabetes and more.
“We are excited to be a part of this revolutionary project that uses cutting-edge analytical and computational technologies and engages diverse communities in the scientific process,” said Britt Burton-Freeman, professor and director of the Center for Nutrition Research and president of Illinois Tech’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ diet, and through this study we hope to gain insights that will lead to more personalized dietary guidance, empowering individuals to make food and nutritional choices that best serve their health and well-being.”
To participate in NPH, individuals must be 18 years of age and must be enrolled or already enrolled in NIH’s U.S. all Research program (external link). U.S. all is an effort that aims to engage at least 1 million participants in building a health database that reflects the diversity of the United States to help accelerate medical research and enable individualized prevention, treatment and care options.
The NPH study consists of three components. All study participants will participate in the first component, while a subgroup will participate in the other two components. In the first component of the study, participants will be asked to complete surveys, report their daily dietary habits, and provide blood, urine, and stool samples for laboratory testing, including microbiome analysis. In the second component, a subset of participants will be given diets selected by researchers. In the third component, participants will also be given diets selected by researchers, but will be required to reside in a research center while on the diets. Participants from all three components of the study will participate in meal challenge tests that measure biological changes after consuming a standardized meal or beverage provided by the study. Participants will receive interpreted information from the study about their health, including body fat percentage, microbiome makeup, metabolism and dietary composition.
NPH will link the participants’ data from the survey to information obtained through U.S. all Research program, including genetic information and data from electronic health records and additional studies. The study will leverage advances in artificial intelligence to analyze this vast amount of participant data to develop algorithms that predict how a person will respond to a particular food or diet based on various factors. All of this data will eventually be available via U.S. all’ the data platform, Researcher Workbench(link is external), to support many other studies on health and disease. Strict security measures are in place to keep data secure and protect participants’ privacy.
“Nutrition is perhaps one of the most powerful medicines available to us, but is among the least understood,” said Geoffrey Ginsburg, MD, Ph.D., U.S. all’ chief physician and scientific director. “By pressing U.S. all infrastructure and platform, NPH will be set apart from other nutrition studies by its scope and diversity. The value of NPH will be enhanced by the research community as new data types are made widely available in the Researcher Workbench to explore and advance our understanding of nutrition and health.”
Illinois Institute of Technology