Nutritional genomics holds enormous potential for improvements in health care at the individual and population levels through the maintenance of health and the blocking and reversal of disease states. The Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) in Nutritional Genomics in Clinical Practice offers graduate-level education that prepares individuals to explore and apply the emerging field of nutritional genomics research in clinical practice. MUIH’s program is one of the few graduate programs offered in the field and is the only one focused on the intersection of clinical nutrition and genomic analysis. Nutrigenomics is at the intersection of nutrition and genetic expression, specifically how nutrients influence the genome and their relationship to health and wellness. The emergence of this field parallels the emergence of the broader field of precision health care, which tailors health care approaches to individuals based on their unique genetic makeup. The American College of Nutrition forecasts nutritional genomics as the third hottest area of nutrition research for 2020. This online 12 credit program can be completed in two trimesters (less than one year).
Advances in nutritional genomics offer the opportunity for physicians, nutritionists and other health professionals to take their holistic practice and approach to a new level. The Nutritional Genomics in Clinical Practice PMC is designed for clinicians who hold a master’s or higher degree in a clinical field including clinical nutritionists, registered dieticians, medical doctors, naturopathic physician, chiropractic medicine, osteopathic physician, doctor of pharmacology, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and other health care professionals. The PMC in Nutritional Genomics in Clinical Practice offers new complementary knowledge and expertise to that of such health care professionals and expands the currency and relevance of their clinical practice. The program prepares students to understand and address the role of genomics in the context of overall clinical care, including evaluation of the genetic and genomic profile, use of genomic testing in clinical practice, and relation of the genomic profile to overall health and recommendations regarding lifestyle and diet.
Based on the latest and evolving knowledge in the field of nutritional genomics, this program prepares clinicians with the knowledge and skills to address the relationship between nutrition and gene expression in the context of health and wellness and overall clinical care. The curriculum focuses on the shift in the scope of scientific inquiry from a single gene and its DNA sequence to the study of all of the genetic material, called the genome, which includes those sequences expressed as proteins and the non-expressed sequences that may have a regulatory function. The program provides and overview of the principles of nutritional genomics and studies at the molecular level that have led to the emergence of new fields such as proteomics, metabolomics and glycomics. Nutritional genomics focuses on the interactions between nutrients and an individual’s genome; students will gain knowledge regarding genetics and genomics, nutritional genomics, epigenetics, and genomic testing. Students will learn how targeted nutritional interventions as part of the therapeutic plan can positively impact client outcomes. The use of genomic testing in clinical practice, the integration of nutritional genomics into clinical practice and the influence of epigenetics and lifestyle on the genome will be explored.
Students who complete the PMC in Nutritional Genomics in Clinical Practice will be able to:
- Evaluate the contributions of an individual’s genetic and genomic profile to nutrient/genomic interactions and apply to client care.
- Assess the utilization of nutritional genomics and genomic testing in clinical practice for clients with specific health conditions.
- Analyze the contributions of an individual’s genomic profile, lifestyle and diet to their overall health.
The program is delivered online and consists of 12 credits of the following required courses.
- ISCI672 Introduction to Genetics, Genomics, and the Omics (3 credits)
- NUTR617 Nutritional Genomics (3 credits)
- NUTR638 Genomic Testing in Clinical Practice (3 credits)
- NUTR639 Integrating Nutritional Genomics into Clinical Care (3 credits)
Nutritional genomics is emerging as an essential part of health care as the scientifically-based role of nutrition in health and disease is increasingly understood and as the scope and precision of genomic technologies continues to evolve. Together, these have led to a need for well-educated professionals in nutrition and genomics, especially those with expertise at their intersection, in the expanding healthcare industry.
Nutrition participates in the overall growth of health care which the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics see as leading job growth, projecting this sector to “grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs … more jobs than any other group of occupations.” The growth rate for dietitians and nutritionists (15%) in particular is projected to be much faster than average during this same time period. The National Human Genome Institute recognizes nutrigenomicist as a career path with faster than average job growth. The American College of Nutrition forecasts nutritional genomics as the third hottest area of nutrition research for 2020 and the Academy of Nutrition and dietetics have identified it as one its five strategic focus areas. The Academy notes that while this is an emerging science its proficiency requires advanced knowledge and skills which most healthcare professionals not trained in clinical genetics currently lack.
Nutrigenomics is one aspect of the increasing use of precision and personalized medicine, as well as data analytics in healthcare. The global precision medicine market was valued at over $1 billion in 2014, and is projected to grow to $2.4 billion in 2022 and over $3 billion in 2025. Key drivers of this market include growing development of next-generation sequencing, whole genome technology, companion diagnostics and growing number of retail clinics. The use of personalized nutrition and wellness approaches comprises over half of this market. The rapid rise of commercial, non-medically prescribed, personalized genetic testing packages attests to this growing market and its applications on a daily basis. In addition, Stanford University’s 2017 Health Trends Report indicates a greater need for members of the medical community to be more data literate and skilled in data analytics.