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History and Perspectives on the Dannon Institute Early-Career Nutrition Leadership Institute

Heimburger, Douglas C. MD, MS; Hermann, Mindy MBA, RDN; McClung, James P. PhD; McGuire, Michelle K. PhD; Rasmussen, Kathleen M. ScD, RD; Troy, Lisa M. PhD; Young, Sera L. PhD, MA

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000353
History of Nutrition

Graduate nutrition training in the United States prepares graduates for careers in academia, industry, and government and nongovernment sectors by enhancing critical thinking skills and providing specific technical skills necessary for doctoral-level employment. However, it is often not designed to develop skills in leadership that are key to fully successful careers. The Dannon Institute’s Nutrition Leadership Institute was initiated in 1998 to provide leadership training to fill this gap and to enable early-career nutrition scientists to achieve their career goals. After 20 years of experience with the Nutrition Leadership Institute, this article describes the program’s genesis and evolution, captures its key features and principal outcomes as expressed by alumni, and highlights its value to its participants and the larger nutrition community.

Douglas C. Heimburger, MD, MS, is professor of medicine and associate director for Education and Training at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. He is a physician nutrition specialist who focuses on global health education and training and conducts research on the impacts of nutrition on outcomes related to HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mindy Hermann, MBA, RDN, is a consultant to the Dannon Institute. In her 20 years of work for the Institute, Ms Hermann has provided communications and management leadership for a variety of initiatives, including the Nutrition Leadership Institute, Growing Leaps and Bounds, Community Nutritionary, and others. Ms Hermann works and resides in metro New York.

James P. McClung, PhD, is a nutrition biologist and chief of the Military Nutrition Division (MND) at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts. Dr McClung’s research focuses on basic and applied micronutrient nutrition and has led to applied solutions to optimize warfighter health and performance.

Michelle K. McGuire, PhD, is professor of nutrition and director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Idaho. An alumna of both the early-career and midcareer Nutrition Leadership Institutes, for over a decade she served as a faculty mentor for the former. Her research focuses on human milk and lactation.

Kathleen M. Rasmussen, ScD, RDN, Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition at Cornell University, is an expert in maternal and child nutrition with a strong commitment to mentoring. She helped to develop and then served as the leading nutrition faculty member in the Dannon Institute’s Early-career Nutrition Leadership Institute. Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

Lisa M. Troy, PhD, is assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and director of the Nutrition Assessment Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

Sera L. Young, MA, PhD, is assistant professor of anthropology and global health and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

No extramural support was received for this work.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Army or the Department of Defense. Any citations of commercial organizations and trade names in this report do not constitute an official Department of the Army endorsement of approval of the products or services of these organizations.

Correspondence: Douglas C. Heimburger, MD, MS, Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, 2525 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203 (

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