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Arnold School of Public Health


James Hébert invited to join National Institutes of Health Nutrition Research Thought Leader Panel for the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force

April 17, 2017

James Hébert, Health Sciences Distinguished Professor and Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program, has been invited to serve as a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Nutrition Research Thought Leader Panel. This panel is a part of the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force and is comprised of a group of senior scientists nominated by senior NIH officials.

Established just last year, the task force aims to coordinate and accelerate progress in nutrition research across all of the Institutes and Centers within the NIH through the development and implementation of an NIH-wide strategic plan related for nutrition research. The task members are individuals who are experts from multiple fields. The diverse makeup of the group aims to include perspectives on how nutrition affects a wide range of diseases (e.g., obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease) and overall health.

The panel members have been charged with providing visionary input to prioritize gaps and identify opportunities for strategic planning of nutrition research at NIH. This strategic plan will be developed over the next two years and implemented by a team of senior scientists appointed by the task force. 

A cancer epidemiologist and nutrition epidemiologist, Hébert is a recognized leader in these two areas, both separately and together. His expertise includes a particular focus on the connection between diet-associated inflammation and cancer.

Hébert has maintained an average of six NIH grants since he joined the Arnold School as the chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 1999. Over the course of his academic career, which began in 1985, Hébert has served as the principal investigator, co-principal investigator, or subcontract principal investigator on 48 federal grants totally $86 million. His various research projects have resulted in over 540 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Hébert is particularly skilled at translating research into practical applications. This talent is especially demonstrated by his patented dietary inflammatory index (DIITM). Based on his extensive research into the inflammatory properties of various foods and their effects on chronic diseases, the DII enables scientists to quantify the level of inflammation obtained through nutritional intake. Hébert is transforming DII into clinical tools for use by practitioners and patients through the Columbia-based start-up, Connecting Health Innovations LLC (CHI).

Hébert will bring his extensive expertise in nutritional research, chronic disease prevention and management, and translational techniques to his role as a thought leader on this new panel for the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force. The panel will convene for their first meeting in June, 2017.