Cellular and Physiological Nutrition/Metabolism

The First 1000 Days: The Impact of Nutrition on Brain Development and Function

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Location: Ballroom C

This symposium will present the state of the science and technology regarding the impact of nutrient availability and metabolism on brain development and function. This is a particularly relevant area for the ASN audience, in light of the addition of pregnancy and birth to 24 months for the 2020 Dietary Guidelines, and the rapidly evolving science of brain development, evidenced by the NIH Brain Initiative and brain institutes and initiatives in other countries and regions.The first 1,000 days of development, spanning gestation and the first two years of life, are critical for brain development. Numerous complex events, including the generation of distinct types of neurons and glia, and establishment of their elaborate connections with each other, must be carefully orchestrated during this period. The interplay between the complexity of neural development, the diversity of dietary preferences, genetic expression, and the capacity to metabolize individual nutrients, ultimately determines individual’s cognitive performance throughout lifetime. Through presentations covering neural development and the roles of critical nutrients during the first 1000 days of life, this symposium will provide the ASN audience with the knowledge necessary to evaluate and discuss the state of the science at the intersection of nutrition and neuroscience research fields.

Learning Objectives:


Lisa Freund, PhD

Chief, Child Development and Behavior Branch
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Freund is a developmental neuropsychologist who is known for her neuroimaging studies with children from different clinical populations and was an NICHD-supported scientist for several years. She came to NICHD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute where she was Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Freund is Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at NICHD, which covers a wide range of child development research areas, from basic biobehavioral research to translational and applied. She is also responsible for a mutli-faceted research and training program to promote basic science investigations of the typically developing brain and associated behaviors in ages from newborn to young adulthood, investigations of the neurobiology of parenting and affiliation behaviors, and the effects of environment and neuroendocrines on brain development.


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MIchael K. Georgieff, MD

Executive Vice Chair
University of Minnesota
MInneapolis, Minnesota

Dr. Michael K. Georgieff is the Martin Lenz Harrison Land Grant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. He is executive vice-chair of Pediatrics, head of the Division of Neonatology and Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development at the University. He received his MD at Washington University in St. Louis, and his pediatric/neonatology training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and at the University of Minnesota. He studies the effect of nutrient deficiencies on the developing brain. He has published over 230 peer-reviewed papers and serves as an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, UNICEF and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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Carol L. Cheatham, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kannapolis, North Carolina

Dr. Cheatham is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist with a dual appointment as Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and the UNC-CH Nutrition Research Institute (NRI). Dr. Cheatham earned her Ph.D. in Child Psychology and Neuroscience in 2004 at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. During her tenure at the Institute, she studied the development of memory and attention, while simultaneously studying the effects of stress and social support on memory development. At the NRI, Dr. Cheatham is studying the effects of fatty acids, choline, lutein, and anthocyanins on the development and functioning of the hippocampus and frontal lobes, brain structures that are integral to the formation and retrieval of memories and to higher-order cognition. She has an active research program examining the effect of nutrition on typical and atypical brain development and function. In this work, she uses an electrophysiological technique known as event-related potentials as well as behavioral tasks to assess brain function in infants, children, and older adults. To determine individual nutrition needs, Dr. Cheatham assesses background genetics and dietary habits. Dr. Cheatham’s work incorporates developmental psychology, neuroscience, nutrition, genetics, and epigenetics. She views interdisciplinary work as a pathway to a cohesive picture of lifespan development.


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Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD

Director, Nutrition Research Institute
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kannapolis, North Carolina

Dr. Zeisel is the Kenan Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Zeisel earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1975, was a resident in pediatrics at Yale University from 1975–1977, and earned his PhD in nutrition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. He served as chair of the Department of Nutrition at UNC from 1990-2005. Dr. Zeisel is the Director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute and Director of the UNC Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (one of 12 centers of excellence funded by the US NIH), North Carolina. He serves on the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal editorial board. His research team focuses on the essential nutrient choline and why there are individual differences in nutrient metabolism, using new approaches in nutrigenetics and metabolomics. Dr. Zeisel has proven that humans require choline and that this nutrient is critical for normal brain development, and for liver and muscle function. He is an international leader in the development of the field of precision nutrition. Based on his research, the US Institute of Medicine set a dietary requirement for choline in 1998. Dr. Zeisel has authored more than 350 scientific publications.


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The First 1000 Days: The Impact of Nutrition on Brain Development and Function

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