The Culinary Medicine Program at UT Southwestern
Leadership and Faculty
Jaclyn Albin, MD
Director, UT Southwestern Culinary Medicine Program
Dr. Jaclyn Albin treats patients of all ages and trained in combined internal medicine and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. She joined the Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2014 where she practices primary care in the Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic. Dr. Albin also serves as the Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program.
She is passionate about nutrition, lifestyle, and other environmental influences on health, and she teaches her patients, students, and residents to prioritize these areas. She also studies the impact of childhood adverse experiences, often known as toxic stress, on adult health. Dr. Albin loves blending her love of nutrition and wellness with cooking, growing a garden, traveling, and spending time with her husband and children.
Dr. Albin launched UTSW’s Culinary Medicine Program and serves as the Director, working to teach nutrition through hands-on cooking classes to medical students, residents, healthcare professionals, and the community using the Health meets Food courseware.
Milette Siler, RD, LD, CCMS
Milette Siler has been involved with Culinary Medicine since 2014, when a collaboration between Moncrief Cancer Institute and Texas Christian University first brought the program to North Texas.
Her career is focused upon advancing Culinary Medicine in both a professional, student, and community setting. In the professional student arena, Milette serves as lead dietetic instructor for UT Southwestern’s medical school, bringing enhanced nutrition education to medical students, residents, and other health professionals.
She also enjoys her continued partnership with Texas Christian University, working as an adjunct preceptor collaborating with dietetic interns to bring nutrition education to students at UNT Health Science Center.
In the community setting, Milette teaches hands-on cooking classes for cancer survivor patients served at Moncrief Cancer Institute. Additionally, she networks with local food pantries and other organizations to bring Culinary Medicine to underserved populations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Culinary Medicine Programming
In 2017, we launched our first year with the Health meets Food Student Elective, which is offered to 2 cohorts of 16 medical students per year. Always a full elective, we offered open enrollment in 2019 to quantify the degree of interest, and 94 first-year medical students enrolled. We determined student enrollment with a randomized lottery. Thus, a potential of 6 cohorts per year would be needed to accommodate the level of student interest. The team uses the teaching kitchen in the University Department of Nutrition.
We increasingly strive to make the student elective interdisciplinary, and our RD facilitator supervises several dietetic interns each semester. We routinely encourage engagement from UTSW dietetics program in order to enhance the growth of medical student and registered dietitian collaboration early in their training.
Beginning in 2018, the UTSW Family Medicine residency offers 4 Health meets Food modules per year for the interns and 2 modules per year for each of the second and third year residents: they are completing 8 modules across their 3 year residency. There are 14 new interns accepted into the Family Medicine residency each year.
The UTSW Pediatric residents spend time in local elementary and middle schools and they are expected to deliver educational content, including nutrition information. Eventually, we hope to create training for the pediatric residents so that they are able to teach Culinary Medicine in the community. The goal is to determine how much training resident physicians need to have a sufficient level of competence to relay high quality, evidence based programming to the students from local schools.
We hope to expand programming to include elective experience for UTSW Internal Medicine residents, and we are actively seeking grant funding to support this goal.
As of spring 2020, the UTSW Adult Gastroenterology Fellowship program will offer two Health meets Food modules per year in addition to two additional nutrition/culinary themed lectures delivered by the UTSW Culinary Medicine team. The fellowship programs’ greatest challenge has been structuring the schedule to enable fellow availability while covering core clinical services.
The UTSW Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellowship program is planning to deliver the Culinary Medicine programming in 2020, combining educational content tailored to GI-specific topics with a wellness initiative for their fellows, likely through a retreat format.
Internal Team Building
Interest in the Culinary Medicine program has spread across campus, leading to requests for collaboration to offer team building exercises.
As of 2019, UTSW’s departments of Development, Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs have all requested classes for team building. We delivered five classes to over 80 non-clinical campus employees in 2019.
In 2016, UTSW’s Moncrief Cancer Institute (MCI) launched community programming. Since joining UTSW’s Moncrief Cancer Institute (MCI) in 2016, Milette Siler, RD, LD, CCMS has continued to expand and build the Culinary Medicine initiative to reduce the threat and impact of cancer for North Texans. (More information about community programming at MCI.)
In 2018, a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant enabled a community-oriented project titled Food As Medicine program (FAME). Through this project, we built partnerships with food pantry distribution sites across Dallas. In addition to offering live Culinary Medicine community classes at several sites, medical students trained in Culinary Medicine continue engagement through food demonstrations at food pantry distribution days at two sites. They prepare and offer food samples, encouraging pantry clients to try new foods, and share Health meets Food recipes.
Through a BUILD Challenge grant, we will continue the FAME program in addition to other efforts of our community partners and UTSW Collaborators.
Research and Publications
Presentations at Local, State, National, and International Professional Meetings
April 2018: Engaging the Village: Multisector Integration to Promote Weight Wellness in Children, Pediatric Grand Rounds, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Colombus, Ohio.
February 2019: Launching Culinary Medicine at an Academic Medical Center. Peer-reviewed Roundtable Presentation at the UT Kenneth Shine MD Academy of Health Science Education Innovations Conference. Austin, Texas.
March 2019: Culinary Medicine: Adventures in Education, Research, & Community Engagement at the Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences Outreach Lunch at Bonton Farms. Dallas, Texas.
September 2019: Food Actually IS Medicine: Innovative and Practical Approaches to Nutrition Counseling. Workshop delivered at Texas Pediatric Society Annual Meeting. Plano, Texas.
November 2019: Culinary Medicine: An Innovative Approach to Promote Lifestyle Change. Workshop delivered at the 12th Annual Global Diabetes Management Conference. Dallas, Texas.
Liang Y, Cheng L, Siler M, and Albin J. Culinary Medicine Elective: Why and How to Launch Nutrition Curriculum for Medical Students. Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.
Nguyen H and Albin J. Building a Food Foundation: Developing a Four-Week Nutrition Elective for Senior Medical Students. Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.
Marshall H, Pruitt S, Bowen M, Siler M, and Albin J. Food as Medicine: A Pilot Nutrition Curriculum for Children of Participants in a Community-Based Culinary Medicine Class. Presented at Health Meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference June 2018 in New Orleans, LA.
Mathew P, Pruitt SL, Siler M, Albin JL, Bowen M. Food as Medicine: A Food Demonstration Curriculum for Food Pantry Clients. Presented locally at “Going from Hunger to Health” the 7th annual Dallas Hunger Summit September 2018.
Albin J and Siler M. Culinary Medicine: How Launching Hands-On Nutrition Curriculum Takes Medical Students from the Kitchen to the Community. Presented after peer review at UTSW’s Women in Science and Medicine Celebration (WISMC) in Dallas, TX and UT Kenneth Shine MD Academy of Health Science Education Innovations Conference in Austin, TX, both in February 2019. Awarded 3rd place poster at UT Shine Innovations Conference.
Philips A, Sparks M, Gonzalez C, Siler M, Bowen M, Pruitt S, and Albin J. Collaborative Solutions to Food Insecurity: Engaging Medical Students in Community Nutrition Education at Food Distribution Sites in Dallas, TX. Presented locally at the 8th annual Dallas Hunger Summit September 2019.
Albin J. Chew on this: Is food friend or foe for better health? UTSW MedBlog April 2018. https://utswmed.org/medblog/food-better-health/
Albin J. Culinary Medicine: A Fresh Outlook on Food and Medicine. Southwestern Medical Foundation Culinary Medicine Series April 2019. https://swmedical.org/culinary-medicine-fresh-outlook/
Albin J. Farm to table: Rediscovering a simple, practical approach to food. UTSW MedBlog June 2019. https://utswmed.org/medblog/farm-table-rediscovering-simple-practical-approach-food/
Dallas Observer: Dallas Social Service Organizations Unite to Improve Health Outcomes in Low-Income Communities 11/25/2019
In 2020, we are pursuing additional opportunities to expand engagement of the UTSW Culinary Medicine program with the community, especially in low income, food-insecure areas of Dallas that hope to bring economic development through improved access to nutritious food paired with culinary education. We are also actively pursuing additional grant funding to support research of the impact of Culinary Medicine on specific patient populations.
Opportunities for collaboration, expansion of programming, research, and funding emerge from sharing the message of Culinary Medicine. Dr. Albin gave Department of Internal Medicine Grand Rounds in the summer of 2018 and Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds in the fall of 2019. These opportunities generated a great deal of interest and that led to a number of connections with other departments and community opportunities.
Additionally, Dr. Albin has been invited outside the institution to share about Culinary Medicine at Grand Rounds at Nationwide Children’s Hospital/The Ohio State University (4/2019), at Parkland Health and Hospital System’s Global Diabetes Conference (11/2019), at Grand Rounds at Medical City Hospital Dallas (11/2019), and at the combined Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Specialty Interest Group Meeting at the 2020 Pediatric Academic Societies International Conference (5/2020).
In the fall of 2019, Dr. Albin won an institutional Leaders in Clinical Excellence Award, the Rising Star Award, and the video creating by the UTSW team highlights Culinary Medicine.
As of 2019, Dr. Albin’s Department Chair of Pediatrics provided 10% time support to enable a successful launch of continuing education classes as a source of ongoing time support funding.
In December of 2019, Dr. Albin was awarded an internal grant of $10,000.00 as a finalist in the UTSW Department of Internal Medicine Innovation Tank competition. With this funding, she will partner with a UTSW transplant nephrologist to teach living kidney donors about Culinary Medicine in order to optimize their health post-donation.
The launch of Culinary Medicine at Moncrief Cancer Institute and UTSW was possible due to a gift from the Moncrief family of Fort Worth, Texas. After launching the first classes at Moncrief for community members, our experienced lead RD instructor, Milette Siler, partnered with Dr. Albin to co-teach the medical student elective and then subsequent programming. Moncrief Cancer Institute continues to support food and RD time costs for the medical student courses.
All GME and internal team-building courses are offered at a low cost rate to offset the cost of food, RD time, and kitchen use.
In 2019, UTSW began to offer continuing education courses in culinary medicine to educate internal and external healthcare professionals and provide a source of funding support for student and community classes.
In addition to the above sources, the culinary medicine team continually builds relationships with potential philanthropic donors and applies to numerous small and large grant opportunities.
All culinary medicine programs face similar challenges. Sustainable funding, faculty time support, dedicated kitchen space, and recognition as an evidence-based field are just a few of the challenges we’ve navigated. Interdisciplinary collaboration, persistence, engagement of dedicated students and other learners, and pursuing research are all helpful strategies to enable continued implementation of this life-changing programming.