Deborah F. Tate, PhD, became interim director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute on April 1, having been named by Vice Chancellor for Research Penny Gordon-Larsen. Tate follows Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH, who served the NRI as director from 2021 to 2024.

During his three years as NRI director, Hursting made significant advances for the organization. Under his leadership, the NRI reorganized and augmented the clinical research center, enhanced its community-based research capacity with stronger connections to main campus, and increased team science initiatives.

Interim Director Tate holds a faculty appointment at the NRI, is a professor of Nutrition and Health Behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is co-principal investigator of the NIH’s Nutrition for Precision Health UNC Clinical Center, and directs the Communication for Health Applications and Interventions Core. She is an internationally recognized behavioral scientist who studies precision nutrition, obesity, diabetes prevention, and digital health interventions.

Tate said her primary goal during the interim period is, “to maintain our strengths, support our faculty and staff, and ready the institute for our next permanent director.” She points out that the NRI has historically been a leader in basic science and laboratory research. It is just beginning to expand its translational science footprint with large human clinical and community trials using the metabolic kitchen and mobile nutrition research unit. “I hope to continue our expansion in this area so we are leading cutting-edge research both in our labs and in our communities,” said Tate.

As a global pioneer in precision nutrition research, NRI investigators study the role of nutrients in preventing disease, diet-related health behaviors, risk factors for disease, the effect of the environment and genes on disease outcomes, and the impact of gene-nutrient interactions. Tate will continue this legacy and support the NRI’s mission.

“I am committed to supporting the science and community-engaged scholarship of our faculty and staff,” Tate said, “The future of the NRI is extremely bright and I look forward to leading the institute during this transitional time.”