History

A fourth period during, the "nutrition education" period, the creation in 1977 by Dr. S. Richardson Hill, Jr., M.D., president of UAB, of a new university-wide department of nutrition sciences, greatly expanding the boundaries of the prior nutrition program of the Department of Medicine. The new undertaking was sponsored jointly by three schools: the School of Health Professions, the School of Medicine, and the School of Dentistry. From its inception, the Department of Nutrition Sciences was based on a philosophy of interdisciplinary collaboration involving many departments and several schools. With Dr. Butterworth as its founding chairman and Dr. Krumdieck as vice chairman and director of the Division of Nutritional Biochemistry, the department brought under one roof a diverse group of scientists trained in many disciplines with a unifying interest in nutrition. Among them was an outstanding nutrition educator: Ms. Carol B. Craig, R.D., a research dietitian who had already developed a successful dietetic internship program at UAB. She was at the time chairperson of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the School of Health Professions, which became incorporated as the Division of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in the new department. Ms. Craig brought with her a number of M.S. dieticians who for years taught with exemplary dedication at the dietetic internship program and at a master's program developed later. Among them were Ms. Harriett Cloud, director of the Nutrition Division at the Center for Developmental and Learning Disorders; Ms. Rebecca L. Bradley; and Ms. Annie Adams Cornwell.

Among the founding members of the new department was Juan M. Navia, Ph.D., a senior scientist of the Dental Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, which at the time had a branch at the UAB campus. Dr. Navia's pioneering studies on nutrition and oral health added an important dimension to the research efforts of the new department. Dr. Navia's outstanding career in nutrition and public and international health culminated years later with his tenure as dean of the UAB School of Public Health.

SHRP05/Nutrition: Webb Building Construction

About a year prior to the founding of the department, a generous donation of one million dollars by Mr. Charles B. Webb, Jr., a Birmingham philanthropist, honoring the memory of his late wife, Susan Mott Webb, made possible the construction of the six-story building that the Department of Nutrition Sciences has occupied since 1983.

Although there were many contributors to the nutrition education period, there can be no doubt that the main driving force behind it was Dr. Weinsier. A physician par excellence committed to no other specialty than clinical nutrition, Dr. Weinsier became the model of a practicing doctor who used his knowledge of nutrition for the benefit of his patients. The medical students were inspired by his example, nutrition rapidly became the preferred course of the basic sciences curriculum, and Dr. Weinsier was repeatedly recognized as the best medical basic sciences professor at UAB.

With characteristic perseverance and tenacity, Dr. Weinsier pursued the development of methods to improve the nutrition education of physicians and medical students and successfully expanded his efforts to national and international dimensions. In the early 1980s he and Butterworth succeeded in recruiting another young physician-nutritionist, Douglas C. Heimburger, M.D., M.S., who also became very active in medical nutrition education, co-editing with Dr. Weinsier two of the three editions of their popular Handbook of Clinical Nutrition (1989 and 1997). Dr. Sarah L. Morgan, mentioned before for her contributions to the folic acid period, has also contributed very significantly to the nutrition education programs of the department. Trained both as a M.S. dietician and as a physician, she is currently director of the Division of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. Together with a group of very able dieticians—Ms. Beth Kitchin, Ms. Amanda Brown, and Ms. Suzanne Henson—Dr. Morgan continues the dietetic training programs initiated years before by Ms. Craig. Dr. Morgan has also co-edited with Dr. Weinsier two editions of their textbook Fundamentals of Clinical Nutrition. In addition she has established an active osteoporosis clinic aimed at treating and investigating this very prevalent disease with still poorly understood nutritional causative factors.

Another key figure in the history of nutrition education at UAB was the late Dr. Sauberlich, mentioned before in reference to his contributions to the biochemical assessment of nutritional status of patients. Dr. Sauberlich, together with Dr. Prince, successfully collaborated to develop a Ph.D. program in nutrition that became effective in 1987. Dr. Heimburger has also contributed significantly to the success of the Ph.D. program by serving as director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program, funded by the National Cancer Institute, which provides funding for Ph.D. students investigating the role of nutrition in cancer causation and prevention.