The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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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). Coursework includes 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 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.

Please note: We have suspended the Health Professionals program for Fall 2016 and we will not be offering the blended learning program at this time. If you remain interested, please contact Dr. Sharon Akabas at An alternative is for you to apply to our full time program which can be completed in one year. For more information about the program, you can visit

Schedule for 2015-16
Orientation began on Saturday, September 12, 2015. On-ground courses 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 as listed below. Note that the weekends of January 30 and 31 and March 5 and 6 have been reserved as snow dates.

Fall 2015 (6 credits)
September 19 & 20
October 17 & 18
November 14 & 15
December 12 & 13

Spring 2016 (6 credits)
January 23 & 24
February 20 & 21
March 19 & 20
April 16 & 17

Summer 2016 (6 credits)
May 14 & 15
June 11 & 12
July 9 & 10

  • Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition I
  • Readings in Human Nutrition 
  • Behavioral Counseling I
  • Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition II
  • Growth and Development: Nutrition Throughout the Lifespan
  • Behavioral Counseling II
  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Medical Nutrition Management
  • Behavioral Counseling III



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 (3 credits)

Spring (3 credits)

Summer (2 credits)

·         Epidemiology

·         Research Methods I

·         Obesity

·         Research Methods II

·       Research Methods III


Health Professional  Year 3:

Fall (2 credits)

Spring (2 credits)

Summer (3 credits)

·         Special Studies I

·         Special Studies II

·         MS Thesis


Applicants must hold a health professional degree (e.g. MD, NP, PA, PhD, etc.), or the equivalent, and must have completed science coursework in biology, chemistry and/or biochemistry.  Note that this is a small, interactive program, therefore, spaces are limited.  We strongly encourage applicants to complete applications as early as possible. Contact MS Program Director Sharon Akabas at for more information.


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: $23,724 ($1,318 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: $24,797 (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 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 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 M8201   Readings in Human Nutrition
This course focuses on examining the current literature with an emphasis on an in-depth evaluation of the scientific evidence and its use in clinical practice. Students will learn to critically appraise scientific articles in order to assess the usefulness and validity of findings. The appropriateness of the study design and an assessment of the key methodological features of studies will be evaluated. By the end of this course, students will be able to critically appraise scientific information so that they can identify relevant and high-quality studies that are applicable toward clinical practice.

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 M8215   Medical Nutrition Management
This course provides the evidence base for therapeutic recommendations and uses case studies to illustrate their application in clinical practice. 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 dietary management.

Human Nutrition M6241, M6242, M6243 Behavior Counseling I, II, III
These courses are designed to increase empathy and counseling skills that are important for professionals who work in clinical and public health settings.   Topics include nutrition and exercise counseling and assessment, as well as health literacy, psychodynamics, motivational interviewing, harm reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy.  Counseling exercises are used to guide students toward the application and integration of these strategies in clinical and public health practice.

Continuation to Masters:

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 M8225, M8226, M8227 Research Methods I, II and III
These courses comprise a three part series designed to review research questions, hypotheses, study design and variable measurement. By the end of these courses 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 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. In partnership with the American Board of Obesity Medicine, this course also serves as a review course for the ABOM examination.

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 help students successfully execute the Master’s Thesis project. Students are given the tools needed to develop the research methods, submit an IRB protocol, and present  preliminary results.

Human Nutrition M9750    Thesis Research
This course is required for submission of the final Thesis Research manuscript. The course will be complete upon presentation of the final project and approval of the Master’s Thesis manuscript.


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

Kim Hekimian, Ph.D.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics
Associate Director, Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals, Institute of Human Nutrition

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


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