NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – During Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Rutgers University dedicated the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH), a university-wide hub for interdisciplinary research whose mission is to make New Jersey the “Healthy State” and a model for the nation.
The nearly 80,000 square foot facility on the university’s George H. Cook campus was made possible by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an anonymous donor and the state’s Building Our Future Bond Act of 2012.
The institute offers nearly 40,000 square feet of research space and approximately 30,000 square feet of community space to facilitate communication and cooperation among scholars who pursue interdisciplinary research; policymakers who apply research to real-world problems associated with food and health; and parents, their children and students whose lives can benefit from wellness programs and health and education activities.
The ceremony featured Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; Rutgers President Robert Barchi; Chancellor Richard L. Edwards; Executive Dean Robert Goodman, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; institute Director Peter Gillies; and Robin Mockenhaupt, chief of staff, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“In this particular building, you are going to change the model from treatment to wellness,” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told the crowd of Rutgers alumni, faculty, staff and elected NJ state officials. “You’re going to teach us all the value of eating right, of taking care of ourselves, and in the long run, changing the entire healthcare model for not just the state of New Jersey, but the world.”
The IFNH is the home of several specialized centers, including the Center for Lipid Research, the Center for Childhood Nutrition Education and Research, and the Center for Health and Human Performance. The institute also houses the Cook/Douglass Student Health Clinic, which provides professional nutrition counseling services and clinical research space.
“The Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health has a bright future ahead of it,” said Guadagno. “Today’s dedication of the institute’s new home is but the beginning. Now the real work begins, educating the health and nutrition professionals of tomorrow to make New Jersey a healthier and happier place.”
“This institute is another example of how Rutgers brings together faculty, staff and students from across the university to demonstrate our extraordinary expertise in the fields of nutrition and health and share it with the people of New Jersey and beyond,” said President Barchi.
Institute Director Peter Gillies added, “I’m very proud of what we’ve built. The institute is an amazing resource not only for the university but for the broader New Jersey community. The basic research and community outreach of the institutes will help build a culture of health in the state.”
The building also features a modular, shared-space laboratory that can accommodate six to eight research groups and includes technical support for the Center for Digestive Health. In addition, there are open offices and designer workstations for 100 faculty, staff and students; a boardroom; and a high-tech, 45-seat video conferencing facility.
Gillies spoke about the IFNH’s innovative design with pride. “We built the whole facility to minimize hierarchy and walls,” he said. “We have no offices in this building, which is remarkable. People just bump into each other in very positive ways, which engenders intellectual collisions.”
About Rutgers University: Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities, educating more than 67,000 students and serving people throughout New Jersey. Rutgers University-New Brunswick is the only public institution in New Jersey represented in the prestigious Association of American Universities. Rutgers is also a member of the Big Ten Conference and its academic counterpart, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of 15 world-class research universities.