The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Program Details

Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals



The medical nutrition program for health professionals begins with one year of courses, which meet one weekend per month (September thru July, for a total of eleven weekends), and include online components which can be completed at any time during the month. It consists of an applied, comprehensive focus on nutrition biochemistry, growth, development and aging, medical nutrition therapy, clinical nutrition, and counseling techniques. The courses combine didactic lectures, research discussions, and counseling exercises to enable the effective and immediate application of evidence-based nutrition guidelines, as well as an opportunity to collaborate with peers in the learning process. Cooking and exercise workshops are also included to help enhance self-efficacy.  By the end of the first year, a total of six graduate-level classes will be completed to obtain a Certification of Professional Achievement. All courses will be graded as pass/fail and may be applied to the masters program for those who wish to continue for the graduate degree.

Schedule for 2014-15

Orientation will be held on Saturday September 6, 2014. On-ground courses will take place on the Columbia University Medical Center campus on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm. The weekend classes will take place on the weekends of 9/20- 9/21, 10/18-10/19, 11/15-11/16, 12/13-12/14, 1/10-1/11, 2/7-2/8, 3/7-3/8, 4/18-4/19, 5/16-5/17, 6/13-6/14, 7/11-7/12.

Fall 2014

9/20- 9/21, 10/18-10/19, 11/15-11/16, 12/13-12/14

Spring 2015

1/10-1/11, 2/7-2/8, 3/7-3/8, 4/18-4/19

Summer 2015

5/16-5/17, 6/13-6/14, 7/11-7/12

·         Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition I (3 credits)

·         Growth and Development: Nutrition Throughout the Lifespan (2 credits)

·         Behavior Counseling I (1 credit)

·         Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition II (3 credits)

·         Readings in Human Nutrition (2 credits)

·         Behavior Counseling II (1 credit)

·         Clinical Nutrition (3 credits)

·         Medical Nutrition Management (2 credits)

·         Behavior Counseling III (1 credit)


Course Format and Assignments

Weekends will start with lectures, followed by guided discussions and a related "hot topic" discussion that includes an evaluation of the literature. There will also be workshops on ways to apply the information in practice, including counseling concepts and techniques to promote behavior change, specifically motivational interviewing, harm reduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamics, and health literacy. We also include hands-on cooking and exercise workshops to help enhance self-efficacy. The supplemental online materials will include readings, podcasts and preparation for on-ground workshops. You will be asked to prepare cases from your clinical experience for the on-ground workshops to enhance the application of concepts.

The health professional program also offers the option to continue past the certification to complete a masters of science degree in nutrition. The masters track entails an additional fifteen credits, including a tailored and guided thesis project on a topic of your choice. Completion of the masters will typically take an additional two years as a part-time student after completion of the one-year certification program, for a total of three years.  Courses can be taken online with some on-ground work. The schedule for the continuation for a masters is as follows:
Health Professional  Year 2:
Fall:  Epi for Nutrition (3 credits)
Spring: Obesity or elective (3 credits)
Summer: Research Methods (2 credits)

Health Professional  Year 3:
Fall: Special Studies (2 credits)
Spring: Special Studies (2 credits)
Summer: MS Thesis (3 credits)


ADMISSIONS 2014-2015

Applicants must hold a health professional degree (e.g. MD, NP, PA, PhD, etc.) and must have completed science coursework in biology, chemistry and/or biochemistry.  Applications must be postmarked by August 15, 2014.
Note that this is a small, interactive program, therefore, spaces are limited.  We strongly encourage applicants to complete applications as early as possible. 



The one-year certification component is 18 credits.  The Masters requires an additional 15 credits. 

The tuition and fees for the first year (18 credit certification program) are estimated as follows. Note that fees are subject to change.

* Note that tuition may be tax deductible and fees may also be covered by your employer.  Please check with your employer/benefits office and accountant for details.  

Tuition: $23,256 ($1,292 per credit - $500 deposit due at time of acceptance)
Application fee: $95
Student activity fee: $300
Computer access fee: $573  ($191 per term)
Transcript fee: $105
CME fee: $0  (to be covered by the IHN)
Certification program cost: $24,329 (over three semesters)


Continuation to the masters degree requires an additional 15 credits and thesis project. Note that tuition may be tax deductible and fees may also be covered by your employer. Columbia University employees and their families may be able to have some or all of the credits covered.  Please check with your employer/benefits office and accountant for details.


Core Courses:

Human Nutrition M8205  Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition,  Part I

This course covers the aspects of carbohydrate, lipid, protein, and energy metabolism that are relevant to the understanding of human nutrition at a cellular, organ and system level. Emphasis is on understanding the integration of metabolic pathways and the principles of metabolic regulation. This course helps the student understand digestion, absorption, transport and metabolic functions of the macronutrients in human metabolism

Human Nutrition M8201   Readings in Human Nutrition
This course focuses on examining the current literature with an emphasis on topics not covered in other courses. The purpose is to develop in the student a critical approach to scientific information, using student presentations and discussion.

Human Nutrition M8206  Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition Part II

This course covers the roles of vitamins (fat and water-soluble) and minerals in human nutrition. The emphasis is on the understanding of vitamins and minerals in relation to human health. The course will help the student understand the sources, biochemistry and functions of vitamins and minerals, and the nutritional standards and guidelines for vitamin and mineral intake.

Human Nutrition M8200   Growth and Development

This course focuses on how nutrition affects (and is affected by) growth and development throughout the lifecycle, from conception to the elderly.  Attention is given to the special nutrient and metabolic needs of each developmental stage, as well as to the cognitive, psychosocial, and environmental factors that influence nutrient intake.

Human Nutrition M8207   Clinical Nutrition
This course covers the physiological aspects of clinical disorders, including symptoms, risk factors, biological pathology, and clinical management, as well as the role of nutrition in their prevention and treatment.

Human Nutrition M6244   Medical Nutrition Management

This course utilizes case-studies to apply current evidence-based guidelines for nutrition-related conditions. The psycho-social implications for the person and family subject to those recommendations are considered together so that students can develop an integrated approach to development of a dietary regimen.

Human Nutrition M6241, M6242, M6243 Essentials of Behavior Counseling I, II and III
These courses are three part series designed to increase empathy and counseling skills that are important for professionals who work in clinical and public health settings.   The series covers the basic tenets of health literacy, psychodynamics, cognitive behavioral and motivational interviewing. Counseling exercises are used to guide students toward the application and integration of these strategies in clinical and public health practice.

Elective/Masters Courses:

Human Nutrition M6120    Introduction To Epidemiology For Nutritionists
Epidemiology is used to study the distribution and determinants of disease in human populations. Many of these determinants are nutritional. This course will introduce the students to the theory, methodology and terminology used in epidemiology, using examples related to nutrition and disease from the current scientific literature.

Human Nutrition M8204 Research Methods
This course will review research questions, hypotheses, study design and variable measurement. By the end of this course students will submit a research plan including introduction and literature review for their Masters Thesis Project.  The research plan will include a timeline of planned thesis project activities moving forward.

Human Nutrition M6220   Overview of Foods in Nutrition
This course focuses on foods, including their particular nutrients, how to maintain food safety, and how the body responds to specific food components.  It also covers nutrition policies, dietary intake guidelines, and nutrition myths and how they develop.

Human Nutrition M8202   Obesity: Etiology, Prevention, and Treatment
This course examines current knowledge and controversies related to the regulation of body weight and energy balance. It deals with the interactions between genes and the environment, psychosocial aspects of obesity, and the clinical implications of our current knowledge.

Human Nutrition M8220    U.S. and International Nutrition Policy and Programs

This course provides an introduction to nutrition-related public health programs and policies in the U.S. and internationally. The effects of food, nutrition and nutritional diseases on the health of various societies, and programs and policies that have been developed to improve global public health will be discussed.

Human Nutrition M9210    Special Studies

This course is designed to assist students in the development of the personal skills needed to become a professional nutrition scientist. It provides students with information needed to successfully select a research setting and Master’s Thesis project. Students are assisted in evaluating different research opportunities to optimize the fit of the student to the Thesis project and mentor. There is also a strong emphasis on enhancing the student’s professional development and scientific presentation skills, both written and oral.



Core IHN Faculty

Richard J. Deckelbaum, M.D.
(Chair) Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition, Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Epidemiology,
Director, Institute of Human Nutrition

Sharon R. Akabas, Ph.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics
Associate Director of Educational Initiative, Institute of Human Nutrition
Director, MS in Nutrition Program, Institute of Human Nutrition
Director, Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals, Institute of Human Nutrition

Mary DiGiorgi, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Nutrition in Surgery
Associate Director, Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals, Institute of Human Nutrition
Director of Clinical Research, Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, Columbia University

Jessica Fanzo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics

Kim Hekimian, Ph.D.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics

R. Ariel Igal, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics

Sally Ann Lederman, Ph.D.
Special Lecturer, Institute of Human Nutrition and Mailman School of Public Health

Jeri Wanzor Nieves, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Rajasekhar Ramakrishnan, Eng.Sc.D.
Director, Biomathematics Division, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D.
Research Associate, New York Obesity Research Center


Please direct inquiries about the program to Dr. Mary DiGiorgi (, Dr. Sharon Akabas (, or Claire Zimmeck (




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Contact Us

630 West 168th Street
Presbyterian Hospital,
Suite 1512
New York, NY 10032
Tel: 212 305-4808
Fax: 212 305-3079


Ph.D. Training Faculty

M.S. Faculty Research