NORTH MANCHESTER – Manchester University is launching an online program in 2023 that will combine nutrition and genetics to prepare students for a career in the field of dietetics.

It was notified Friday by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) that the program has received candidacy accreditation.

Laura Bollinger has been named director of the Master of Science in Nutrition and Nutrigenomics (MSNGx) program. She describes the use of nutrigenomics as “unique and forward-thinking.”

Nutrigenomics is a field of study that examines both nutrition and genetics. Bollinger said there are two ways of approaching the subject: the study of how food can influence genes (for better or for worse) and the analysis of how an individual’s genes can affect how one’s body utilizes nutrients from the foods they eat.

MSNGx at Manchester will be the first of its kind, preparing students to become registered dietitians with a unique focus on nutrigenomics.

“Nutrigenomics is a relatively young area of study, so we’re really cutting-edge and leading the way with this program,” she said. “You won’t get this opportunity anywhere you go.”

Bollinger said it is a competency-based program, ensuring that successful students will “demonstrate the skills and abilities to be effective dietitians in the field.” She also noted that the intentionally small size of the program means that students will have access to plenty of help and feedback.

 The first students in the MSNGx program will begin in the fall 2023 semester. Applications will open in October 2022.

Because it is online, students can complete coursework and experiential learning wherever they live. They will learn about community nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and human genetics, with a capstone project where they will create and conduct their own research. Students will also complete six diverse rotations in the field, which include working in food service and a hospital setting.

MSNGx at Manchester was originally envisioned by Teresa Beam, associate dean of graduate life sciences and department chair of pharmaceutical sciences, and Jeff Beer, department chair and professor of exercise science and training, to expand the university’s health sciences offerings while utilizing the genetics laboratory on Manchester’s Fort Wayne campus.