The Dannon Institute, in coordination with the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), presents this award annually to a nutrition educator who has demonstrated outstanding mentoring qualities by developing successful investigators of nutritional sciences. The Dannon Institute is committed to developing leadership and recognizing the critical role that mentorship plays.

The 2016 recipient of the ASN/Dannon Institute Mentorship Award is Elizabeth H. Jeffery, PhD., Professor Emerita of Nutrition and Professor Emerita of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Elizabeth cares deeply that, regardless of where we have started, each one of her students reaches full potential for excellence. She has provided continued guidance and support throughout our careers, setting an unparalleled example for us as scientists operating in the fields of Nutrition and Toxicology, in diverse settings including academia, government and industry. Elizabeth is a champion for women in science, and her experience blazing a trail in the male-dominated fields of Biochemistry and Toxicology in the 1970’s and ‘80’s clearly shaped her attitudes and coaching style. Although she began her research career as a toxicologist, Elizabeth has a distinguished history of service and leadership in the American Society for Nutrition. The scope of Elizabeth’s mentorship goes far beyond only her direct students. As a committee member, colleague, advisor or collaborator, her passion has always lied in helping others to find success.

Elizabeth considers her laboratory a teaching space, where inexperienced students can develop their critical thinking skills – learning not only to create critique, but also to accept and apply it to advance their work. The positions obtained by her former trainees are a reflection of the diversity of the students she has mentored, and her ability to pass along her core values to each of us. Her objective was not to direct us to her own definition of success, but rather to help us each reach our full, unique, potential. Below are examples of how she has shown us these values.

Ethics:  Many times Elizabeth has guided us to let the data tell the story. Fundamental to her own beliefs and those she has imparted to her mentees has been the ethical obligation of standing alone and expressing scientific findings as they are, even if a conflict of opinion results. She has shown us that the most unusual and unexpected results, that at first may have seemed like a mistake, usually lead to the most important breakthroughs. Interdisciplinary collaboration: Elizabeth frequently tells students not to sit with their friends at scientific conferences, in order to network with potential collaborators. From the beginning of her career as a Toxicologist until today, Elizabeth has found her greatest successes in interdisciplinary research.

She has shown us that research gaps are by their nature crossdisciplinary, and in order to solve them effectively we must put aside our biases and affiliations. Diversity: Elizabeth intentionally recruits students and faculty with diverse educational backgrounds including Toxicology, Medicine, Chemistry, Engineering, Food Science and Nutrition. At any given time she has had individuals from the U.S., Sweden, Korea, Taiwan, China, India, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands, among others in her own laboratory. She has shown us the importance of inclusion; valuing and respecting the ideas of others, no matter where they may be coming from geographically or philosophically.

Confidence (in yourself and others): Elizabeth sometimes tells students “be sure to ask a question so they will know who you are.” In the words of former student Ren-Hau Lai, “she thought of me as a plain paper. She told me that she is very confident that my short learning curve can help me catch up the technical parts quickly. The most important part for the research is how to apply what I’ve learned from my previous trainings and integrate them more efficiently. Because of Dr. Jeffery’s encouragement, I realize how to succeed with my unique background.” She has shown students that they can trust in their own ability, and in the abilities of those around them, to succeed.

Excellence (in yourself and others): A number of Elizabeth’s pre-doctoral students have, with her guidance, applied for and received funding for their own research (e.g. USDA NRI grant 99-35503-7010 that funded co-nominator Matusheski’s PhD thesis). Several students have been directed back into the lab after a preliminary exam or even a thesis defense to repeat an experiment. Elizabeth has shown students the value in pushing ourselves for excellence, and helped each realize what they can achieve when they are motivated to succeed and push others to do the same.

Curiosity:  Students have often heard Elizabeth say “that’s only dogma.” She encouraged them to dig deep into the literature and challenge conventional wisdom. In the words of former mentee Anne Kurilich, “she really pushed me to think not just about the details of the projects I was working on, but also to think more broadly, to really see the big picture and the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.” She has shown that creativity comes from curiosity, and one must always be curious about whether dogma represents reality.

Adaptability:  The students in Elizabeth’s laboratory were expected to bring in new methods to solve a problem, not bring in new problems to solve with a method. Many of us struggled with unfamiliar techniques in analytical chemistry, bioassays, protein expression and in vivo experimentation. But each of us learned the value in developing new skills. Elizabeth says she “came into Nutrition through the back door,” having begun her career in toxicology, and adapting her skillset into a productive research career in the field of Nutrition on dietary bioactive components. She has shown students that they can adapt to create new and unexpected opportunities.

Selflessness:  Elizabeth always encouraged students to share our skills with incoming students and students of other laboratories, helping us to become mentors ourselves. Visiting graduate students who have completed short-term projects with Elizabeth (including conominator Hintze) received the same level of coaching as her own students, and such projects have become the basis for PhD dissertations and numerous publications. Her mentorship has been crucial for many to realize their career goals, especially as junior investigators. She showed us that true leadership is not about power, but about service to others. The positions of leadership that her students have obtained across diverse disciplines are direct evidence of this guidance.

Intersociety Professional Nutrition Education Consortium (IPNEC) Online Nutrition Curriculum Guide

At a time when there is growing public concern for the health of Americans, nutritionally related chronic diseases are more prevalent than ever. Yet, in spite of scientific data, public interest, U.S. government reports, society studies and congressional mandates, the teaching of nutrition in medical schools and residency programs remains inadequate. Physicians thus remain insufficiently informed about the role of diet in the prevention and treatment of disease. In order to encourage the nutrition societies to unite in addressing these issues, the Intersociety Professional Nutrition Education Consortium (IPNEC) was founded in 1997.

The Dannon Institute has provided a grant to assist IPNEC in funding an online nutrition curriculum guide. This curriculum guide, available at, is intended to provide direction in training physician nutrition specialists.

ASN Clinical Internship

In 1995, the American Society for Nutrition in conjunction with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) established a program of internships in clinical nutrition for medical students. The purpose of this program is to increase the role of nutrition in the practice of medicine, medical research, health promotion and disease prevention by providing a unique combination of educational experiences to medical students. Each intern works under a recognized authority in clinical nutrition in a U.S. medical school or hospital for approximately eight weeks during the summer. The Dannon Institute funded this program annually from 1998 to 2006.

Nutrition in Medicine CD-ROMs

In the years between 1998 and 2000, the Dannon Institute provided funding to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to support the development of Nutrition in Medicine, a CD-Rom nutrition curriculum. This innovative, case-oriented course was developed by physicians, nutritionists, educators and programmers. It is aimed at healthcare providers who can prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses through better nutrition. It is currently the exclusive nutrition education tool used by over 125 Medical Schools and has been adapted for use by already licensed physicians and other healthcare providers. The Dannon Institute also provided funding for the development of a teacher’s guide to accompany this series in an undergraduate setting.

The Roland L. Weinsier Award for Excellence in Medical/Dental Nutrition Education, Supported by the Dannon Institute, is presented in recognition of an outstanding career in medical and/or dental nutrition education. The results of the nominee’s efforts should be widely recognized and have had a national or international impact. Nomination will depend on acknowledged excellence in nutrition teaching or nutrition education research that extends beyond the local institution and that includes innovations in medical/dental nutrition education.

The 2016 recipient of the Roland L. Weinsier Award for Excellence in Medical/Dental Nutrition Education is Douglas L. Seidner, MD, Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Human Nutrition, for his tireless leadership in the American Society for Nutrition on matters related to nutrition education in professional schools and on his nutrition education leadership in all the institutions where he has invested his career. He chaired CPNE from 2002 to 2010, when the committees were reorganized, and he has led the ensuing Nutrition Education Committee ever since. This longevity of service as a committee chair (2002 to the present) is unprecedented in the recent history of ASN/ASCN.

Doug Seidner has been an active educator in medical nutrition for nearly thirty years. Following his residency at Harvard Medical School, he first completed a fellowship in Nutrition and Metabolism at Harvard’s New England Deaconess Hospital, under Drs. Bistrian and Blackburn. He then pursued a fellowship in gastroenterology at George Washington University School of Medicine, where he joined the nutrition support team, as he subsequently did at Geisinger Medical Center, then the Cleveland Clinic, and more recently at the Vanderbilt University Center for Human Nutrition, which he has directed since 2008. Dr. Seidner was a key member of the curriculum development team for GI and Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University. At Vanderbilt he directed nutrition problem-based learning for second year medical students and a medical school nutrition course, as well as being involved in several other courses. At the institutions where he has served, Dr. Seidner has served on multiple medical nutrition and dietetics committees, and has participated in many task forces to improve the quality of nutrition care offered in those medical centers. Dr. Seidner has also been a mentor and advocate for medical nutrition training of graduate and postgraduate medical trainees. He has supervised numerous medical students, residents, and fellows, and has supervised other health professionals in nutritional support, including dietitians and pharmacists. Among these are approximately 15 clinical nutrition fellows, 55 gastroenterology fellows (including one on a K30 CRCA from the Division of GI at Case Western Reserve University), 130 general surgery and anesthesiology residents on rotations, and ~55 dietitian, nurse and pharmacist trainees in nutrition support. To enhance his teaching effectiveness, Dr. Seidner invested in 6 education skill-building workshops. Dr. Seidner has been very active nationally in medical nutrition education. He was invited to present educational lectures at all ASN/EB annual conferences between 2010 and 2014.

Between 1991 and 2013, Doug Seidner organized and directed at least 8 nutrition symposia, including 4 for Clinical Congresses of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011), and he has served as an expert panel participant in several NIH sponsored workshops, most recently NHLBI’s “Future Directions for Implementing Nutrition across the Continuum of Medical Education, Training, and Research” in 2012. As a result, he has multiple conference proceeding publications. He is the editor of “The Science and Practice of Nutrition Support: A Case-Based Core Curriculum” and “Intestinal Failure and Rehabilitation: A Clinical Guide.” He has been especially active in medical nutrition education for the past decade at the American Society for Nutrition and he redesigned successfully the education subcommittees’ roles within the society. He has chaired or co-chaired ASN’s Nutrition Education Committee (2010-present) and its predecessor, the Committee on Professional Nutrition Education. He was the founding president of the Central Pennsylvania Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) in 1991 and president of the Ohio Society of ASPEN in 1993-1994. He has been a member of several other nutrition-related committees in medical societies.

Among Doug Seidner’s more than 70 articles, 28 book chapters, and nearly 100 abstracts, nutrition education of health professionals has a consistent representation. Among them are publications providing guidelines for nutrition care of sick patients and calls for action such as the recent NHLBI efforts around “The need to improve nutrition education of medical and health care professionals and the research recommended to evaluate implementation and effectiveness.” Virtually all of his book chapters are devoted to nutrition education of health professionals. Doug Seidner has also a very long track record of supporting the development and use of innovative instructional approaches in nutrition education, devoting significant time serving for many years on the Advisory Board of the NIH-funded Nutrition in Medicine project for online nutrition education based at the University of North Carolina. He was instrumental in its widespread adoption by domestic and international medical schools. His enthusiastic and outstanding leadership in efforts for better nutrition education is now extending to a global reach through international collaborations of the ASN Nutrition Education Committee, joining in the establishment of an annual international medical nutrition education conference, and a joint venture on the development of e-learning aimed at low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Doug Seidner has been a relentless mentor to NEPS for many years. As Vice Chair of NEPS (2010-2012) and chair of NEPS (2012-2015). He always finds time to organize yet another phone call to brainstorm and to advise on the next steps for a specific task or project, often in late evenings. He sees everyone in the subcommittee as an essential member of the team to move the projects ahead. He is very attentive to time limitations and goes the extra mile to help where needed.

This award is administered by the American Society for Nutrition. The Dannon Institute provides a monetary award and inscribed plaque. The award is presented at the annual Experimental Biology meeting.

Growing Leaps and bounds is an educational program to support pediatricians efforts to guide parents of children ages one month to five years of age on nutrition, feeding and physical activity. The series of materials links healthy eating, exercise and childhood development and supports anticipatory guidance to help parents and caregivers make the best choices for their children as they grow and develop.

Discussions with practicing pediatricians revealed that while there is an abundance of educational material on nutrition, feeding and physical activity, it would be desirable to have this information compiled in one comprehensive set of materials. Pediatricians also are concerned about childhood obesity and recognize the strong impact they need to make by educating parents and caregivers.

Growing Leaps and Bounds was developed by experts in the areas of nutrition, child psychology, exercise physiology, pediatrics and obesity. Practicing pediatricians and parents have also reviewed the Growing Leaps and Bounds materials and their suggestions for both the content and format have been incorporated.

The Growing Leaps and Bounds materials are designed to…

  • Provide parents with a comprehensive resource they can use between well-child visits
  • Empower parents to create a healthy environment for their children by making smart food choices for themselves and making physical activity a normal part of their day-to-day lives
  • Help parents understand better the relationship between food, physical activity and overall health
  • Encourage discussions between the pediatrician and caregiver about proper nutrition, feeding behaviors and physical activity for the child


The Dannon Institute created the Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute in 1998 to exemplify its commitment to the development of leadership in nutritional sciences and the promotion of excellence in research. The program is designed to equip outstanding nutritional scientists at an early stage of their careers with the leadership skills and broad perspective necessary to achieve their professional potential.

The Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute consists of an intensive five-day training program designed to provide participants with strategies for improving their ability to lead others in both their place of employment and in the field of nutrition. This program will be held June 3-8, 2017.

Participants will:

  • Learn to identify and reinforce the personal and professional attributes that are characteristic of successful leaders;
  • Be encouraged to set appropriate personal and professional goals;
  • Be provided with a network of peers and well-established professionals in the field of nutrition.

The program includes customized elements from FranklinCovey and the Center for Creative Leadership. It also includes participation by well-established professionals with careers in many aspects of nutrition.

The Dannon Institute will provide the following to participants of the Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute:

  • Single occupancy accommodations at Airlie Conference Center, located in Warrenton, Virginia, for five nights.
  • All meals, beverages and snacks starting with dinner on the first evening and ending with lunch on the last day.
  • All testing materials, books and training provided by FranklinCovey and the Center for Creative Leadership
  • Car/bus service to and from the program site and back to Baltimore/Dulles/Regan airports and Washington, DC area train stations. Transportation from airports/trains to Airlie will be no later than 1:00pm on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Transportation from Airlie to airports/trains on Thursday, June 8, 2017 will depart no earlier than 2:00pm after lunch.

Participants will be responsible for:

  • Transportation by airplane and/or train to the Baltimore/Washington, DC area are the sole responsibility of the participant. Participants who drive from home to the Airlie Center will not be reimbursed for mileage. Participants will be responsible for booking their own flights/train tickets and must be available for pick-up at airports/train stations no later than 1:00pm on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
  • All telephone calls made from and all internet connection charges issued by the Airlie Center and any personal items purchased from the Airlie Center

Eating right should be fun for parents and children. Children begin to form good habits like eating healthy and trying new foods in preschool. We know that this can be both an exciting and frustrating time for parents and teachers. That’s why the Dannon Institute developed Celebrate Healthy Eating, a nutrition education program designed for preschool children. The curriculum was researched and developed by the Pennsylvania State University Center for Nutrition and was originally published in partnership with Scholastic Early Childhood Today.

With Celebrate Healthy Eating Online, educators can find lesson plans about different food groups along with fun activities for their students. Families can get nutrition news and tips, create kid-friendly recipes, discover books about nutrition, and use coloring books online. And now, all of the modules are available in Spanish!

The Dannon Institute developed the Awards for Excellence in Community Nutrition and the Community Nutritionary to highlight successful, community-based nutrition programs and to offer ideas and insights for nutrition leaders, educators and program planners nationwide.

In the years between 1998 and 2003, the Dannon Institute supported the Awards for Excellence in Community Nutrition program which was created to celebrate the accomplishments of local nutrition initiatives that have made a positive and significant impact on residents in the community they serve. The winning programs were diverse in scope, focus and budget. All demonstrated innovation, creativity and impact in nutrition behavior change at the community level. Programs selected as recipients of the Awards for Excellence in Community Nutrition have been featured in the Dannon Institute’s Community Nutritionary publication.

By highlighting and encouraging successful nutrition programs at the grassroots level, the Community Nutritionary helped shape thriving community nutrition programs nationwide. Each issue of this publication highlighted key learnings from programs that won the Dannon Institute Awards for Excellence in Community Nutrition, a “how-to” section, and a questionnaire to earn professional education credit.

The Community Nutritionary has been used in nutrition courses at several universities and has been distributed to thousands of nutrition staff at organizations such as Meals on Wheels. These issues continue to be available on the Dannon Institute’s website today.

The Council on Foundations awarded a 2002 Wilmer Shields Rich Gold Medal to the Community Nutritionary. The Wilmer Shields Rich Awards Program recognizes excellence in communications by foundations and corporate giving programs.

Many of the case studies that have appeared in the Community Nutritionary are featured in the textbook  Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach, written by Marie E. Boyle (3rd Edition, 2003, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning Inc., Belmont, CA).

Children spend a large percentage of their waking hours in school and are highly influenced by their school environment. In 2006, the federal government mandated the establishment of school wellness policies in response to the growing problem of overweight and obesity among U.S. children. School administrators across the country spearheaded the creation and adoption of wellness policies, with broad implications in the school, including the cafeteria, classroom and playground.

The Healthy Steps Forward publication featured here appeared in the October 2008 issue of  District Administration  magazine and offers a foundation for assessing a school district’s progress in promoting wellness in the areas of nutrition and fitness.

The Dannon Institute recognizes the importance of nutrition and physical activity in promoting children’s health. These tools have been developed as a way to support superintendents, district administrators and wellness committees in their efforts to take school wellness to the next level.

Since 2010, the Dannon Institute has attended four Superintendents Summits produced by the District Administration Leadership Institute. Each Superintendents Summit brings together 60-70 visionary Superintendents from across the United States. During these programs, the Dannon Institute has presented best practices in school wellness, both nutrition and physical activity. The Dannon Institute has also collected examples of school wellness best practices from superintendents with the idea that these ideas might be helpful for other districts.

The Dannon Institute created videos featuring superintendents who attended the 2011 and 2012 District Administration Leadership Institute Summits. These videos are intended to provide ideas and information about school wellness programming that has worked successfully in districts across the country.