The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Nutritional and Metabolic Biology Doctoral (PhD) Program

2016 First year PhD students are seen with Institute of Human Nutrition Director Richard J. Deckelbaum, MD (center, right), chair of this program,  Debra J. Wolgemuth, PhD (center, left), Director of the Nutritional and Metabolic Biology Program (NMB), and NMB Training Faculty member Anthony Ferrante, MD, PhD (at back, right). 


The Doctoral Program in Nutritional and Metabolic Biology (NMB) prepares individuals to conduct original research in nutrition as it relates to the health sciences; to teach in colleges, graduate schools, and medical schools; and to pursue careers in basic and translational research at the national and international level. 

The NMB program integrates a number of fields relating to human health and disease. Students with master’s degrees or highly qualified baccalaureate degree holders are considered for admission to the Doctoral Program. 

Students prepare themselves for qualifying examinations and dissertation research by judicious selection of required and elective didactic courses at the Medical Center and in other divisions of the University. Instruction is organized around a core area of concentration (see training areas below) through a combination of courses, seminars, tutorials, and laboratory research.


Students are expected to acquire expertise and knowledge in the areas of molecular and cell biology, physiology and metabolism, general and nutritional biochemistry, and biostatistics.  Students are provided exposure to underlying metabolic and physiologic derangements associated with clinical nutrition disorders. Emphasis is on problems related to obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, infant nutrition, gastrointestinal disease, renal failure, parenteral nutrition, and preventive nutrition. 

The application for Fall 2018 is now open. Click here to view the 2017 PhD Program handbook.



Second year PhD students gathered at the 2015 Wu Lecture series.


Nutritional and Metabolic Biology Timeline

The first year of the program consists of advanced courses and seminars in nutrition and molecular biology, elective courses, laboratory work and exploration of research opportunities for the dissertation topic. 

Course selection for individual students is at the discretion of the Training Committee and the Dissertation Research Advisory Committee (DRAC).  First year students typically take the following required courses:



Electives may be taken at any time, usually after the first year in the program. The selection of courses should be based on the student’s research interests and career goals, or to fill deficits in their background. The NMB program is an integral part of the biomedical training program at the Health Sciences campus. Elective courses are offered in the following departments: Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Biostatistics, Genetics and Development, Microbiology, Pathology and Cell Biology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, and Psychology. The chart above is a selection of possible courses from which to choose.


Second-year students take additional courses, if needed, participate in research and seminars, have an initial meeting with their DRAC and complete the Qualifying Examination.

Third year students meet once or twice a year with their DRAC, in anticipation of preparation and submission of the dissertation. Ideally, at the end of the fifth or sixth year the research is completed and the dissertation is defended and deposited with the University.


thesis defense party

Instruction and Thesis Research

Instruction and thesis research are carried out under the guidance of the NMB Ph.D. Program Training Faculty and the direct guidance of the Training Committee of the NMB Program. In addition, an individual three-member DRAC advises each doctoral candidate.


Application Information

Click here to access the online application

For questions about the application process, please email us at or call (212) 305-8058. 

For Information on the NMB doctoral program, please email the Institute of Human Nutrition at or call 212-305-4808.

Application requirements include:

The Aptitude (General) GRE is required and of one advanced subject GRE is also recommended but not required.

International applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

A personal interview will be offered for those whose applications are under active consideration.


Financial Support

All students, both from the U.S. and other countries, accepted into the program are awarded support throughout their training that fully provides for the tuition and medical insurance fees required by the University. Students also receive a generous stipend that commences with registration and normally continues throughout graduate study as long as satisfactory academic progress is made.


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630 West 168th Street, PH1512
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-4808