Naomi Fukagawa

Director, USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center

Naomi K. Fukagawa, MD, PhD, assumed the Directorship the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, in Beltsville, MD, in Spring 2015, previously serving as Professor of Medicine and Acting Director of the Gerontology Unit at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT.  Dr. Fukagawa is a board-certified pediatrician and an expert in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism, including protein and energy metabolism; oxidants and antioxidants; and the role of diet in aging and chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus. Dr. Fukagawa has served on numerous NIH review panels, served as the Chairman of the NIH study section for General Clinical Research Centers and completed a 5-year term on the NIH Integrated Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes Study Section.  Her membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation, election as President of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition (American Society for Nutrition), and service as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, as Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition Reviews, and as Vice-Chair of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the USDA and HHS speak to her national/international recognition. She received her MD degree from Northwestern University and her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Her clinical training included residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Chief Residency at the University of Vermont, and nutrition/ gerontology fellowships at the Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Fukagawa has maintained an active research laboratory where her work ranges from cells and animals to in vivo studies in human volunteers.  Dr. Fukagawa’s present work focuses on the impact of environmental stressors (metabolic or physical) on human health, specifically the health effects of exposure to petrodiesel and biodiesel exhaust. Although nutrition is not often viewed as an environmental factor that influences health and well-being, all are aware of the concern about obesity and related disorders, the impact of air pollution on health, and the search for alternative fuel sources that may divert food crops to fuel production. Melding nutrition science with environmental engineering, endocrinology, and immunology will support innovative experiments to determine whether emissions from the combustion of petrodiesel and biodiesel fuels have differential effects on susceptibility to obesity and diabetes mellitus and the potential mechanisms responsible for the effects. Underlying this is the question of whether diet can help to mitigate the adverse effects of environmental stressors while maintaining adequate food production in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable manner. 

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