Girl eating slice of watermelon

Precision Nutrition Program at UC Davis Health

The Precision Nutrition Program within the Center for Precision Medicine and Data Sciences at UC Davis Health is an interdisciplinary program that works in collaboration with key stakeholders throughout the University, the greater Sacramento community, and across the U.S. We develop research projects, provide expertise in reporting and evaluation, and participate in high-level planning in the areas of nutrition, health care and policy. Our program aims to accelerate nutrition research that uncovers the role of human nutrition in improving health and wellness for individuals and communities. We are also interested in the ways technology can increase access to healthy food and the ways that we can improve the use of food as medicine.

What is precision nutrition?

A recent National Institute of Health article stated that precision nutrition, “aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, microbiome, antibiotic and probiotic use, metabolism, food environment, and physical activity, as well as economic, social, and other behavioral characteristics.”

Precision nutrition is a new branch of precision medicine that could improve public health and allow us to more effectively treat diseases like obesity and cancer. Our health and quality of life could be improved with individualized diet plans that helped us to decide what and when to eat. Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach, precision nutrition could help health care providers and dieticians customize patients’ diets based on their DNA.

What are some questions that precision nutrition could answer?

  • Who is most at risk from obesity? 
  • Who will respond to a certain diet or nutrients better? 
  • What role does the microbiome play in nutritional health? 
  • Are there specific genetic markers that make you more likely to respond to diet interventions?
  • Do produce prescription programs reduce food insecurity? 
  • How does nutrition across the lifespan play a role in development and aging? 
  • How can we improve the use of food as medicine? 

Future Projects

The ultimate success of our Precision Nutrition Program lies in training and supporting the next generation of researchers, medical practitioners and food and nutrition service workers. Field mentoring and education are among the core values of our Precision Nutrition team.

Future projects in the precision nutrition program will gather baseline hospital data and then pilot innovative food-based interventions like medically tailored patient or family meals and prescriptions for healthy food. We will use diverse data sources to quantify impacts on patient health and costs to the health system.