NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has received a four-year, $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, on its George H. Cook Campus.
Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick announced his intention to establish the new institute during his Annual Address to the University Community on Sept. 19. In that address, McCormick made it clear the new institute would focus on obesity and its associated diseases, and would "ask and answer questions such as these: Why are young children developing health problems normally associated with overweight adults? How can we teach portion control and motivate healthier lifestyles? What are the best low-calorie diets to keep children lean? How can we help communities serve those who are most at risk?"
"The answers developed at Rutgers will contribute to better nutrition around the world, but, as appropriate to our role as the state university, the first beneficiaries will be the people of New Jersey," McCormick said.
Rutgers has been a pioneer in food science and nutrition. The university was among the first to establish academic departments in those fields more than a half-century ago. Dozens of researchers in several units of the university work in related fields – in pharmacy, psychology, social work and biomedical engineering, to name just a few. The new facility will enable those scholars to collaborate more easily and to focus their joint efforts on specific problems related to health and nutrition.
"There is a critical need to link the system of food production with nutrition and overall human health," said Robert M. Goodman, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. "We plan to build a facility on the George H. Cook Campus to house the people involved in that work – basic science and clinical work."
Goodman said the facility will be a four-story, 88,000-square-foot building located near the Food Science Building at the corner of Dudley Road and College Farm Road. It will contain laboratories, computing facilities, "smart" lecture halls and classrooms, and flexible spaces to accommodate the changing needs of the institute.
The $10 million is a first step toward the completion of the building, and will be supplemented by $55 million from the university. "We'll need to raise more," Goodman said. "We're in active conversation with other donors."
The university is also conducting a nationwide search for the institute's first director.