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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Florida International: Laboratory Training Enhances Science Literacy in Nutrition Students

Nutrition plays a key role in several diseases. Good nutrition in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection can help maintain a healthy immune system and directly affects several organs, such as the liver and heart.  At Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, students have the opportunity to learn about how a person’s diet and how nutritional intake affects individuals with HIV infection, particularity as it relates to liver disease.

“It is essential that we teach students to look beyond the day-to-day and learn to investigate the real potential effects that our diets have on our bodies and our health. That is why research is a part of our core curriculum. Research also teaches the students how interpret any nutrition-related news,” Dr. Mariana Baum, professor in the dietetics and nutrition department and head of the Nutrition Laboratory.

As part of a multiyear National Institute on Drug Abuse/National Institutes of Health grant, the lab is able to have students assist in the research as part of their studies. The current funding mechanism for which Dr. Baum is the principal investigator, allows the Miami Adult Studies on HIV (MASH) cohort to serve as a research platform for collaborative work in HIV and hepatitis C. The six-year study follows 1,500 participants at six month intervals for their health status, substance abuse and related behaviors, in the FIU/Borinquen Research Clinic and in the FIU Nutrition Laboratory.

“The students perform incredibly important tasks that will help us find new mechanisms of disease progression and ways to prevent it. In addition, these experiences will help the students to learn how rigorous research is conducted, so that when they graduate, they can plan, conduct and publish their own research experiments,” said Dr. Baum.

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