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Click on any of the links to read about Rush clinical nutrition students and faculty in the news.

Four Clinical Nutrition Students in the Spotlight at Rush Research Forum 2012

Nutrition Students and Faculty Present at Clinical Nutrition Week 2012

Clinical Nutrition Students Take a Trip to Camp

Clinical Nutrition Faculty Presents at American Heart Association Conference

Clinical Nutrition Faculty, Linda Lafferty, PhD, Receives Prestigious Award

College of Health Sciences Graduate Recognized for Outstanding Research

March 16, 2012
Dr. Heather Rasmussen, assistant professor and registered dietitian in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University recently received her first federal grant. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will fund a 3-year clinical trial designed to test the effectiveness of a synbiotic combination of a bacteria (Bifidobacterium adolescentis strain) and a prebiotic (galacto-oligosaccharide) compared to a conventional synbiotic.
Dr. Rasmussen was overjoyed when she found out she received this funding, “As this is my first federally-funded grant, I was elated. It is currently difficult to obtain funding, so I was very appreciative of the great team we put together to write a fundable grant.”
This study is a multi-center collaboration, and Dr. Rasmussen is responsible for research activities related to the clinical trial on-site at Rush University Medical Center. Her and her team (Ali Keshavarzian, MD and collaborators at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) hypothesize that the proposed synbiotic will improve the intestinal barrier function in obese individuals and thus prevent inflammation caused by bacteria in the gut (endotoxemia) and metabolic inflammation.
If we show that our synbiotic does improve the intestinal barrier function in our subjects, we hope to test further systemic effects by looking at markers of metabolic disease. We may then choose to eventually make this synbiotic available for consumers if it proves to be beneficial for health,” says Dr. Rasmussen regarding the potential impact of her study.
Dr. Rasmussen recognizes Rush’s Research Mentor Program as a key contributor for her success. She obtained input from her mentor throughout the grant writing process. Her advice to other young researchers looking for funding is,“It is important to collaborate and develop a team of researchers and clinicians that are strong in their specialty. As funding is currently difficult to obtain, researchers should not be discouraged if they are not funded on the first attempt; be open to various sources of funding other than NIH such as foundations and industry
The 29th annual Rush University Forum for Research and Clinical Investigation was held on April 11 and 12, 2012 at Rush University Medical Center. This event is hosted by Rush University, the Rush University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the affiliated hospitals of the Rush System for Health. The Research Forum showcases student, faculty and clinician research activities to cultivate awareness of research at Rush and its associated institutions.
This year three clinical nutrition students received awards for their graduate research.
  • Ashley Andrews received 1st place in the Sigma Xi Poster Competition for her work entitled, “Comparison of Recycling Outcomes in Three Types of Recycling Collection Units.”
  • Elizabeth Sims was granted the College of Health Sciences Dean’s award for her research entitled, “Delivery of Bolus Enteral Nutrition to Increase the Proportion of Calorie and Protein Intake in Hospitalized Patients.”
  • Cristina Piazza received the John E. Ware Patient Experience Research Award for her research within the Diet, Activity and Lifestyle (DiAL) Study on "Risk Perception and Physical Activity Behaviors of Breast Cancer Survivors."

Piazza commented on both her award and her research experience, "Meeting with participants for nutrition counseling sessions taught me a lot about our [DiAL] sample that can not be measured or quantified. Each patient has such unique beliefs and experiences that can be critical to understanding lifestyle behaviors." 
Laura Oliver was one of four selected out of 29 to give an oral presentation on, “Knowledge, Perceptions and Use of Probiotics and Prebiotics in Rush University Medical Center Healthcare Providers.”
All of the nutrition students appreciated the opportunity to share their thesis work. “I was really honored to be asked to present my research and to see researchers and faculty at Rush show their interest in my findings,” said Elizabeth Sims, Dietetic Intern and M.S. clinical nutrition candidate.
Photo caption: Ashley Andrews, dietetic intern and M.S. Clinical Nutrition candidate was awarded 1st place in the Sigma Xi Poster Competition for her work entitled, “Comparison of Recycling Outcomes in Three Types of Recycling Collection Units” at Rush Research Forum 2012. 

ASPEN is the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition; they are a leading organization in advancing the science and practice of clinical nutrition and metabolism. ASPEN’s Clinical Nutrition Week (CNW) is an annual conference that unites over 2000 dietitians and other health professionals to discuss advances in clinical nutrition in an inter-disciplinary setting.

Faculty, clinicians, and students within RUSH’s Department of Clinical Nutrition attend and present at CNW annually. This past February, three registered dietitians and two nutrition students attended to share their research and network with the ASPEN community.
"I knew that attending the conference would assist in increasing my knowledge about clinical nutrition and help me better understand the current research taking place," said senior dietetic intern and masters’ candidate, Mary Habschmidt. "I was even able to meet a researcher I cited numerous times in my thesis!" added Habschmidt.
One of Habschmidt's thesis advisors, Cheryl Bacon, a nutrition support dietitian and clinician in the oncology units at RUSH, attended to support her student in their poster presentation on The Medical Nutrition Therapy Provided To Adult Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantion.
Another senior dietetic intern and masters’ candidate, Elizabeth Sims also enjoyed presenting her research findings on the comparison of delivery and tolerance between two forms of enteral nutrition delivery in hospitalized subjects.
"Representing my poster at clinical nutrition week gave me the opportunity to gather insight into the different nutrition practice at hospitals around the nation. It was a gratifying experience to be able to educate ASPEN attendees about an alternative feeding modality to potentially improve the outcome of patients at their hospitals," said Sims.
Habschmidt and Sims were accompanied by three other faculty and clinicians from the Department of Clinical Nutrition. Kelly Kinnare, nutrition support dietitian in the surgical intensive care unit, was selected for an oral presentation for her recent findings on Hypocaloric parenteral nutrition in obese patients comparison with measured resting energy expenditure. Yimin Chen, nutrition supprt dietitian in the neonatal intensive care unit, was a moderator at the conference and also represented the dietitians in nutrition support practice group. All were able to share their research expertise, network with accomplished nutrition professionals and foster interdisciplinary work to continue to improve practices and outcomes in nutrition support.
Both students agree that CNW is a valuable conference for anyone interested in nutrition support.  "I now better understand research that is lacking in the field of nutrition support, what common areas of interest are, and how to better conduct reputable research," stated Habschmidt. Sims added that anyone interested in nutrition support practices should attend CNW, "You are among the leading researchers in the field and provided with the most up-to-date and accurate information to improve patient outcomes."
Clinical Nutrition Students Take a Trip to Camp
August 12, 2011

Diabetes is not just a disease; diabetes is a life-changing condition that millions live with every day. Unfortunately, in the classroom, we do not get to see how diabetes can affect a person's daily life.

One week on beautiful Fish Lake at YMCA Camp Duncan for American Diabetes Association sponsored Teen Adventure Camp, was what Cristina Piazza and Taylor Stang, dietetic interns and MS degree candidates at Rush, would call an awesome hands-on learning experience as a part of Rush University dietetic internship!

Cristina and her classmate, Taylor were accompanied by Kathy Keim, PhD, the head registered dietitian at the weeklong overnight camp. They shared foodservice responsibilities, such as preparing gluten-free meals and snacks for the children with celiac, provided diabetes education by playing games that encouraged campers to identify carbohydrate-containing foods and serving sizes, and they even rounded with the volunteer medical staff at the end of each day.

"Each camper was like an individual case study; we had to adjust their treatment based on eating habits, insulin sensitivity and blood glucose trends. I even got to wear an insulin pump for a day! I felt proud to be a part of the team of physicians, endocrinologists, registered nurses, diabetes educators and dietitians volunteering at camp. I hope that the kids know that we care so much about helping them live a childhood uninhibited by diabetes. I want them to be confident that diabetes is an illness they will never have to fight alone," said Cristina.

Taylor found the most fascinating and inspiring part of the whole experience to be the way in which the campers came together to form amazing bonds and friendships through their diagnosis, facilitating each other to take control over their diabetes.

"After attending a diabetes camp for kids with type 1 diabetes, I feel as though I am at least one more step closer to understanding. I hope all those who work with diabetes can have a chance to see this side as well because it truly helps you understand and hopefully help you be better able to treat this condition," said Taylor.

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Clinical nutrition researcher, Christy Tangney, PhD, shared strategies that have been used to improve the US food environment to foster heart health during the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions in Chicago, IL.

Tangney discussed the nutritional climate of the American food industry. There are a number of things we can do through regional and local governments and economically. As part of an evolving public policy, we need to educate the public about healthier food choices and put the food environment more in sync with those public health messages by encouraging food companies and grocers to provide different and affordable healthier food choices.

For the detailed article see page 10, click: HERE

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Clinical Nutrition Faculty, Linda Lafferty, PhD, RD, FADA, Receives Prestigious Award
November 30, 2010

Linda Lafferty, PhD, RD, director of the dietetic internship, associate director of food and nutrition services, and associate professor of clinical nutrition at Rush, will receive the prestigious Medallion Award from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in recognition for her outstanding service and leadership in ADA and the dietetics profession. Lafferty is an internationally known authority on healthcare foodservice, education and standards of professional practice.

She is a fellow of the ADA, served as past president of the National Society of Healthcare Foodservice Management, and has held elected positions on the Commission on Dietetic Registration and the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.

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College of Health Sciences Graduate Recognized for Outstanding Research
August 18, 2010

The Society for Nutrition Educators (SNE) is an international organization of nutrition education professionals dedicated to improving the health of communities through nutrition education and advocacy. This summer, at the annual conference, a recent graduate of the department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University received two awards.

After graduating in June 2010, Kristin Gabrys travelled to Reno, Nevada to receive the SNE foundation student scholarship and a student research award for her thesis work in nutrition education. This award is given to recent graduates of master s and doctoral programs who demonstrate originality, creativity, innovation and excellence in nutrition education. Her thesis examined the influences on carbohydrate intake and factual carbohydrate knowledge in a type 2 diabetes sample.

Her thesis advisor, Kathryn Keim, PhD, RD, LDN, is pleased with her student's performance on this high-caliber project. "Many people at the SNE conference commented how advanced this type of project was for a master's level student. Kristin did an excellent job with the project!"

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