JWU News

Brown-JWU Pilot Links Nutrition and Preventive Care

JWU Providence Chef Todd Seyfarth teaching nutrition to Brown medical students.


Can teaching medical students how to cook help win the war against the obesity epidemic?

The Providence Journal recently showcased a new pilot program between Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts and Brown University’s Alpert Medical School that aims to do just that.

From the Clinic to the Kitchen
The 14-week pre-clinical elective is teaching cooking techniques to the next generation of doctors as a way to enrich preventive care in the US.

The College of Culinary Arts has been at this junction before: In 2012, JWU and Tulane University School of Medicine joined forces to offer insight to future doctors about nutrition and its impact on health.

The Brown University program was sparked by conversations between Brown med students David Lieberman and Annie Wu and JWU’s Culinary Nutrition Society.

“We study nutrition at the medical school to some degree,” Lieberman told the ProJo’s Paul Edward Parker. “[but] we were more on the theory side.”

This pilot program aims to bridge that gap, notes Todd Seyfarth, RD, CSSD, head of JWU’s culinary nutrition department and director of the pilot. “The traditional doctor does not get much education on nutrition. None of it is in food. We look at it much more food-centric.”

JWU student Will Goodness discusses healthy fats with a Brown med student.

Rethinking Links between Food + Health
Held at both campuses, the curriculum alternates science-based lectures by field experts at Brown with culinary training at JWU. Topics include metabolic syndrome, inflammatory diseases, weight loss, and the essentials for a healthy lifestyle.

Students from JWU’s Culinary Nutrition Society guide the Brown students in culinary techniques, vocabulary, food safety, and industry standards.

“Teaching is the best way to understand a topic," Seyfarth notes. "To have our students gaining experience through teaching fellow students from Brown about their craft is a way for them to deepen their knowledge. Their task is to take evidence-based research and design a menu that is not only nutritious, but also tastes good.”

Both sides reap huge benefits: the JWU students gain a sense of accomplishment from becoming teachers, while the medical students expand their tools to combat obesity.

“It affects how we’ll approach our patients in the future,” says Aileen Bui, a first-year med student from Santa Ana, Calif. “If we don’t know how to do it, then there’s no way we can advise our patients.”

Seyfarth calls the ambitious program a “glimpse of the future,” adding: “We’re looking to continue it on.”

Further Reading
Explore the Food + Health Pilot
Follow Brown Medicine on Twitter
Follow Tulane’s Golding Center for Culinary Medicine on Twitter


A bounty of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Topics: Providence Brown University Nutrition & Wellness Academic Collaborations