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Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH, Director

Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Co-Director

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Co-Director

Martin Kohlmeier, MD, Co-Director

Overview and Application Process

Medical school offers future physicians the opportunity to learn not only the constructs of health and disease, but also the lifestyle factors (such as nutrition) that contribute to them.  The Nutrition Scholarly Concentration at Carolina (NSCC) provides UNC medical students with opportunities to pursue mentored academic and clinical work in select areas across the transdisciplinary spectrum of basic, clinical and population-based nutrition.  The goal of the NSCC is to provide students with the scientific basis and practical experience that will facilitate the integration of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health and prevention or management of specific diseases.  This path is also meant to provide an early introduction to clinical nutrition practice and foster possible qualification as a Physician Nutrition Specialist (PNS) later on if so desired.

The aims of the NSCC are:

  • Provide an integrated, mentored, 4-year elective program that involves didactic and hands-on experience in exploring the roles of nutrition in the prevention and management of specific diseases.
  • Tailor each student’s didactic and hands-on experiences to the student’s interests. Students could choose mentors working on nutritional aspects in the prevention and/or treatment of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, or cancer, which are focal areas in the UNC Department of Nutrition.  Students may also focus on the broader field of culinary medicine (see supplemental information).
  • Facilitate translational research activities, critical thinking, and opportunities to integrate new knowledge into concrete clinical practice.

Students who wish to participate in the Nutrition Scholarly Concentration at Carolina should submit a 3-4 paragraph personal statement explaining why they are interested in participating in this scholarly concentration.  Students will be selected based on interest and demonstrated commitment to better integration of nutrition in practice and research.  Prior experience in laboratory, epidemiologic, clinical, or community-based research preferred.

Program Structure and Highlights


The students will meet (in person or by remote conferencing) initially and then twice a year until graduation with their chosen mentor, NSCC leadership, and a representative of the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists (

Foundation Phase

  • Participate in an independent study class developed jointly by the NSCC leadership and student, led by the mentor, and may include completion of specific modules in the on-line Nutrition in Medicine Program and other online instruction.
  • Engage in mentored research (includes opportunities in basic science, clinical studies, epidemiologic studies or behavioral studies) during the summer between first and second year.
  • Twenty hours of community service with nutrition-related agencies (could include Meals on Wheels, low-income health clinic, community health center etc.)

Application Phase

  • Complete a nutrition-related project as their quality-improvement project during CBLC
  • Continue to work on developing the research project started in summer after 1st year

Individualization Phase

Students will either:

  • Complete 2 graduate level elective courses from the Nutrition Department OR identified components of the online Nutrition in Medicine Program as agreed upon with your Nutrition Department mentor

  • OR complete 1 of the following 4 options:
    • Complete their mentored research project for credit and publication
    • Write a review article with their mentor for publication
    • Design and complete a 4-week elective for credit that relates to nutrition in clinical practice
    • Further develop nutrition content in TEC
  • Learn and demonstrate proficiency in a clinical skill that has high relevance for clinical nutrition practice
  • Prepare three case reports demonstrating the effectiveness of nutrition assessment and dietary intervention for improving objective clinical outcomes