Photo of grilled salmon and vegatables

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Robert Wood Johnson Medical School recently introduced the elective course “Culinary Medicine” so that physicians and dieticians/nutritionists can better counsel patients on how to eat better.

The Value of  a Home-Cooked Meal

A component in maintaining good health that can be undervalued is the role of diet. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School recently introduced the elective course “Culinary Medicine” so that physicians and dieticians/nutritionists can better counsel patients on how to improve their food choices. “Culinary Medicine,” a joint venture between the medical school and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, was inspired by Dr. Gourmet, aka Tim Harlan, an internist at Tulane University who developed the curriculum, based on the Mediterranean diet and designed for lower-income populations, which are particularly susceptible to obesity. Students learn to cook simple-to- prepare meals so that they can share the know-how with patients who will be returning home to their kitchens. “This guy has started a movement that I think is really going to revolutionize not only the way we teach students to understand nutrition, but also how we teach them to teach their patients,” says Carol A. Terregino DC’79, RWJMS’86, senior associate dean for education at the medical school.

What a Smile Can Mean

Rutgers will be playing a hand in helping to fight a rare genetically based gum disease, localized aggressive periodontitis, that affects 2 percent of African-American children, ages 11 to 17. Oral biologist Daniel H. Fine and his team at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine have tracked more than 2,500 Newark children since 2007. Now, a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will help Fine, who is chair of the dental school’s oral biology department and associate dean for research in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, pinpoint biological markers in saliva that can predict whether bone loss will occur from the disease and which teeth it will affect before there are symptoms. Localized aggressive periodontitis attacks central incisors and molars, leading to disfiguring tooth loss and difficulty eating among a demographic that often has limited access to dental care.

Another group with very limited access to dental health care is senior citizens. More than 25 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have no natural teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 70  percent have no dental insurance. Dentures are unaffordable for many, costing up to $9,000 for a set through a private dental practice. Yet, new dentures can mean a new start in life. That has been the discovery for medical students at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, which is sponsoring the Dentures for Seniors program, where the cost of dentures is free, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Delta Dental. “With dentures, they were able to interview for jobs and even start dating because their self-esteem was boosted, now that they were able to smile,’’ says Nicholas DePinto, who developed the program and is the dental director at the Community-Oriented Dental Education clinic in Galloway Township, New Jersey. — Carrie Stetler