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December 2, 2013
CSU researcher Tiffany Weir has been given the 2014 Future Leader Award by the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute.
Weir, an assistant professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, has done extensive research dealing with microbes in ecosystem functioning. She will use the $30,000, two-year award to seek links between the intestinal microbiota and how different people respond to dietary recommendations for preventing metabolic diseases.
“Right now we get blanket recommendations when it comes to diet and nutrition, but blanket recommendations don’t work for everyone,” she said. “We want to find ways to individualize those recommendations.”
She used her father, who has high cholesterol, as an example. The standard diet recommended to him did not lower his cholesterol, so he had to seek other answers.
“I want to know why these diets work in some people and not in others, but I suspect that differences in their native intestinal microbiota are important,” Weir said. “The intestinal microbiota are important in regulating digestion, the immune system, and disease development and I want to take some of our existing data and look at it in a different way.”
Weir’s proposal, “Identifying Genomic and Microbiome Influence on Response to Dietary Interventions for Improved Lipid Parameters,” was selected by an ILSI panel of university and industry scientists from among nine finalists.
Weir has been at CSU since 2002, spending her first nine years working in the Department of Horticulture. She has worked in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition the past two years.
“Tiffany is an exceptionally gifted individual,” said Michael Pagliassotti, chair of CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “With formal training in genetics, microbiology and plant physiology, she is equipped with a repertoire of skills that uniquely position her to make major contributions to nutrition, food science and toxicology. Her current research efforts, which focus on the interaction between nutrients, gut microbes and health, have the potential to directly influence our understanding of human health. She is clearly a future leader, and we are proud to have her as a colleague.”
ILSI, headquartered in Washington, D.C., was formed in 1979 as a nonprofit, worldwide organization whose mission is to provide science that improves public health and well-being.