CUNY SPH Awarded CUNY’s Largest Single-Cycle NIH Grant to Date

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In what is the largest single-cycle NIH grant awarded to CUNY to date, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) and the United States Military Academy at West Point have been awarded $12.4 million over five years to establish the world's first artificial intelligence (AI) and computational modeling center for precision nutrition and health. Precision nutrition is an emerging area of research aimed at better tailoring diets to different people's characteristics and circumstances to achieve better health outcomes.

The center will be co-led by two world-renowned AI and computational modeling experts, CUNY SPH Professor Bruce Y. Lee and West Point Professor Diana M. Thomas. Together they will develop state-of-the-art AI, machine learning, Big Data methods, and other data science approaches to better understand how different people have different dietary needs and to avoid potential biases and disparities that may result from more general, one-size-fits-all nutrition recommendations.

The researchers will develop existing technology to address the whole complex system of factors that affect nutrition and health, ranging from genetics to metabolism to behavior to a person's social and physical environment.

"This grant is part of a major NIH initiative to move our society more towards precision nutrition, better tailoring nutrition guidance and advice to different needs of people and recognizing the diversity that exists," Lee explains. "As the AI Center for this initiative, we are at the leading edge of developing the new computer algorithms, approaches, methods, and tools that can help everyone improve their nutrition and health."

"Our ongoing commitment to advancing health equity and social justice is reaffirmed with this award," says CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes, acknowledging the historic dimension of this unprecedented grant. "We are eager to employ these funds to make great strides in advancing health equity and improving health outcomes for all."

The grant is part of the Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program (NPH) initiative (grant U54 TR004279-01), a $170 million NIH-wide effort, and the first independent study that will recruit a diverse pool of participants from All of Us to inform more personalized nutrition recommendations. The NPH and the center are part of the NIH's Common Fund, a special program aimed at catalyzing multiple biomedical disciplines.

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