The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition & Health (IFNH) underscores the commitment of Rutgers University to new transformational initiatives across the many disciplines impacting food, nutrition, and health. The IFNH draws on the strengths of the entire university as it physically co-locates and strategically aligns the diverse competencies and deep capacity of Rutgers to address society’s major unmet health problems. In this complex world, the institute embraces a culture of interdisciplinarity, a culture that seeks solutions to health problems in the social as well as the biological determinants of health.
The institute operates along a spectrum of translational activity ranging from basic research to community outreach. The breadth of its activities is reflected in the diversity of its research centers, thematic programs, and student services.
As one of its top program priorities, the institute focuses on ways to stem the epidemic rise in childhood obesity and obesity-related disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is particularly important in New Jersey where the childhood obesity rate is among the highest in the nation. Recognizing that many adult diseases have their origins in early childhood, the institute focuses on pre-emptive nutrition and lifestyle changes that can reset health trajectories and offset the increasing costs of healthcare. In this regard, prevention rather than treatment is the strategy of the institute. The institute is also interested in new and unfolding science, such as the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease, novel products in the largely untapped category of medical foods, and how biometric technology can optimize human performance and smart phones enable healthy behaviors in the 21st century.
The institute offers students and healthcare professionals a unique training venue by providing an interdisciplinary research experience in an open-concept work environment; a venue that prepares them to be leaders in the 21st century workplace. The institute also recognizes its responsibility to engage with the community it serves in order to make New Jersey the “Healthy State” and a model for the nation. In this regard, the public is always welcome at the institute, a place where food, nutrition and health come together at Rutgers.
The institute is guided by the following organizational principles and core values:
- Vision: The IFNH is the organizational hub for interdisciplinary research in food, nutrition, and health at Rutgers University.
- Core Purpose: Unite faculty, staff, and students from across the university to work on serious, but preventable health problems in our society.
- Mission: Make New Jersey the "Healthy State" and a model for the nation.
- Core Values: The IFNH has three defining core values that frame its activities and decision making processes:
- Academic Interdisciplinarity
- Community Responsibility
- Collective Success
- Identity: The visual identity mark signals that the IFNH grows through a model of self-assembly and that as a dynamic interdisciplinary organization it exceeds the sum of its parts.
- Emergent Properties: The transformative value of institute arises from its emergent properties, i.e., its ability to invent new programs and deliver outcomes not otherwise feasible in conventional organizations or traditional research cultures.