Precision Nutrition

A leader in the Precision Nutrition space, the NRI is developing and applying cutting-edge methods to determine why metabolism and nutrition requirements differ between individuals. We seek to understand nutrient metabolism and its relationship to human development and disease with the goal of increasingly replacing general dietary guidance with more customized nutrition recommendations.

Precision Nutrition Considered in NIH Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the major funding source for biomedical research in the U.S., and its funding priorities reflect what it perceives to be health issues of major concern. In its recently released 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research, NIH emphasizes Precision Nutrition as “critical for developing more targeted and effective dietary interventions to improve and maintain health in an increasingly diverse U.S. population.” This growing interest on the part of NIH in funding Precision Nutrition further validates the mission of the NRI.

As a renowned global leader in Precision Nutrition, NRI Founding Director Steven Zeisel, MD, PhD, recently reviewed the state of Precision Nutrition, including our current understanding of its principles and how this understanding can be applied to improve health (Zeisel, 2020). In this review, Dr. Zeisel discusses reasons why people have differing nutritional needs, including genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, the microbiome, and environmental exposures. He also discusses some of the challenges and opportunities presented by widespread adoption and implementation of Precision Nutrition.


Advanced Approaches to Science

The UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI)
is an internationally recognized center that conducts innovative basic and translational science studying how individual differences in requirements and responses to diet affect our individual nutritional needs.

We believe that our advances in nutrition science are leading to successes in preventing or mitigating the negative effects of chronic diseases and aging, and in improving human development, even prior to conception.


Identifying the genetic blueprint that makes each of us respond uniquely to nutrition and what it means for our personal health


Measuring thousands of small molecules (metabolites) to better understand how nutrition affects our metabolism, performance and health.

Studying chemical marks on genes that turn them on or off, and are often affected by nutrition early and for the rest of life.

Studying how each of the many microbe species in our gut affects our nutritional health in different ways and makes us respond uniquely to nutrition.


Using molecular tools to understand how nutrients may affect the expression of genes.

What is Precision Nutrition?