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July 2008

Research Initiative to Benefit

Indiana Citizens and Beyond

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) is a new initiative to efficiently transform life sciences discoveries into new medical treatments and products. The statewide collaboration will involve researchers from Purdue, IU, and includes many community partners. Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., Indiana University School of Medicine is the principal investigator. Connie Weaver, Ph.D., head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue, has been named deputy director of the CTSI at Purdue. Purdue’s partnership is through Discovery Park.

One aspect of the Community Health Engagement Program (CHEP) will connect the new institute with Purdue Extension as well as other state and community groups. "Carol Boushey, associate professor of foods and nutrition, will serve as a liaison between CTSI and our county educators," Weaver said. "Carol's work will be especially important in ensuring that we address the health issues of Indiana. This is where access meets impact."Boushey will communicate with county Extension leaders to identify the major community health issues in their areas and report her findings to the institute. Those findings will help researchers conduct community-based interventions and study the effects on the population. Similarly, when public health discoveries are made, Boushey will take the information back to counties that will benefit from it by developing training modules for county Extension educators based on the findings.

Several Foods and Nutrition faculty are also involved in leadership roles within CTSI. They include: Jon Story, director of the graduate student fellowship program; Wayne Campbell, director of the Purdue clinical laboratories; Rick Mattes, bioethics, and Dorothy Teegarden, translational resources.

For more information, http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2008a/080529CordovaCTSI.html

or access the CTSI website, http://www.indianactsi.org/


Practicum Benefits Students and the Community


Seniors majoring in Nutrition, Fitness and Health (NFH) take F&N 415, Practicum in Nutrition, Fitness and Health.  As a capstone course for the major, it allows students to apply the theories, knowledge and skills they have acquired.  Each team of two students is matched with one adult client.  Over the course of one semester, students meet with the client twelve times.  Specific client goals vary, but the overall objective is for the student “consultant” to assist the adult “client” in improving his/her nutrition, fitness and general health status.

IImplementation of the nutrition and fitness programs is highly anticipated, especially by the clients.  Two exercise facilities are available to clients free of charge during the semester of their participation:  the A.H. Ismail Fitness and Nutrition Research and Education Center and the Aquatic Center in the Recreational Sports Center.  Nutrition-related discussions are typically held in a private space in the Ismail Center, but they have also included personalized tours and tips at local grocery stores and private cooking demonstrations in the food labs at Stone Hall.  While following the clients’ progress, students incorporate behavior change strategies and modify the nutrition/fitness programs as needed.  In addition, clear and concise documentation of every client meeting is required, which serves to develop students’ critical thinking and writing skills.


Outside of student/client meetings, students gather for weekly “roundtable discussions”.  Here, they share tools, techniques, successes and struggles from their client experiences.  Students relish this opportunity to learn from their peers and to speak on a professional level with one another.


In the end, it’s a win-win situation for all parties.  Client satisfaction has been such that word of mouth has brought in all the necessary clients, save for one recruitment advertisement over a period of seven years.  One client remarked, “I think this is an excellent program and would gladly act as [a] poster child should you need one!”  And students give high marks as well: “This course was exciting and challenging.”


The course is taught in the fall and spring semesters by Rachel A. Clark.  She has been with the Foods and Nutrition dept since 2001.  She also has duties in the department of Intercollegiate Athletics where she practices as a board-certified sports dietitian. 


Indiana Counties are “Eating Their Way to Better Health”


Eat Your Way to Better Health is a comprehensive, coordinated state program in conjunction with Purdue University Extension and the Indiana State Department of Health. The project’s objectives are to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase gardening skills and help students learn science, horticulture, and environmental awareness. This will be accomplished through the implementation of school gardens with a corresponding nutrition curriculum.


Twenty-two counties are involved with the Eat Your Way to Better Health program, coordinated by Laura Palmer. A variety of county Extension educators and volunteers are participating in the program. Educators have spent the summer months working with local schools to create garden plots. When students return to school in August they will work to plant classroom gardens with fall crops. Educators will utilize the Junior Master Gardener® Health and Nutrition from the Garden curriculum to teach students the importance of growing fruits and vegetables in a home or community garden where health, nutrition and food safety skills can be taught.

 In addition, three Indiana elementary schools will be given equipment to initiate a school salad bar. Extension educators will work with food service directors to provide students with fresh produce at mealtimes as well as educational materials to take home and share with families.  

For more information about the Eat Your Way to Better Health project, contact Laura Palmer at lpalmer@purdue.edu.

Foods & Nutrition Department
Stone Hall, Room 213
700 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN

Phone: (765) 494-8228
Fax: (765) 494-0674

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