Culinary Medicine at Rutgers University

Culinary Medicine at Rutgers University

Leadership and Faculty

Nurgul Fitzgerald, PhD, MS, RD

Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences / Extension Specialist, Rutgers Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2004

More than a third of the adult population in the United States has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, and some minorities and individuals with limited socioeconomic resources suffer from this disease and its consequences even more. Because most of type 2 cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes and controlling weight, my work is focused on preventing the risk factors (e.g., obesity, physical inactivity, and certain food intake patterns), and addressing the underlying cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors such as food insecurity, acculturation, and food environment.

My research group uses a socioecological framework to address individual, family/peer, organizational, community, and policy level determinants of food intake and physical activity. We also use a food and nutrition system approach for a comprehensive look into the elements of the food system that are likely to affect food intake patterns such as distribution and marketing practices, healthy food availability, and access issues.

Culinary Medicine Programming

First-Year Medical Students

Culinary Medicine was implemented using the Health meets Food courseware.  Rutgers was the third partner-site to implement the programming.

The course is offered for all first year medical students. Subsequently, 20 students are selected to participate in an more comprehensive elective in the  spring semester each year at the teaching kitchen operated by the dietetics program.

During the spring, the kitchen is set up with 10 food stations. Twenty medical students and 10 interprofessional students (nursing, dietetic, kinesiology, etc.) for a total of 30 students participate in the course. Each kitchen lab is 3 hours. There are 3 students at each station where students learned how to prepare the recipes from the modules, cook the meals, and review the case study at the end of each cooking session. The course consists of 7 to 8 modules.

Residency Programming

Plans are underway to make this program available to Internal Medicine Residents for the next reiteration of the course.

Fellowship Programming

No programming at this time.

Community Programming

No programming at this time.


Participating students found the Culinary Medicine elective to be a valuable part of their medical education. They were able to create an interprofessional learning environment with a combination of medical students, nursing students, dietetics, and more. They are hoping to expand the audience of the course to include Internal Medicine residents.


It has been challenging obtaining consistent funding. Some of the funding came from the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department and there have been some funds available from grants.


Funding was provided through the RWJ School of Medicine.

Research and Publications

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