The Culinary Medicine Program at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Leadership and Faculty
Bob Foster, MD
Associate Dean for Osteopathic Medical Education
Professor of Family Medicine and Osteopathic Neuromuscular Medicine
Dr. Bob Foster is a Board Certified Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine physician with more than forty years of practice including Obstetrics, Emergency Medicine, and a broad spectrum of Family Medicine.
Dr. Bob has been on the faculty of WVSOM since 1978. He was previously the Associate Dean for Predoctoral Clinical Education, responsible for all clinical programs at WVSOM. He is a native of Arizona and practiced in Tucson before coming to WVSOM, because of its mission is to train rural physicians. He first became interested in nutrition in medicine in the mid-1980s when, due to his wife’s medical issues, he attended a residential program at the Kushi Institute for Macrobiotics in Becket, Massachusetts. This was eye-opening and started him on a journey that later led to a sabbatical, in 1999, to enhance the Nutrition curriculum for WVSOM. Along with the “Culinary Medicine Group” at WVSOM, he started a two-week elective in Culinary Medicine that was piloted in 2018 and currently offers 6 electives a year for 3rd and 4th year students and one summer session which includes 1st and 2nd year students.His current passions are Spirituality in Osteopathic Medicine, the philosophy of Stillian Osteopathic Medicine, and Nutrition in Medicine (reversing degenerative disease) and he envisions this to be part of the core curriculum at every medical school in the country.
Dina Schaper, DO
Associate Professor, Clinical Education
Dr. Dina Schaper is an Associate Professor in the Clinical Sciences Department and a family practice physician at the Robert C. Byrd Clinic, where she sees family practice patients and performs skin procedures. Along with Drs. Foster, Griffith, and pharmacist Amy Jasperse, she co-developed the Culinary Medicine Elective to educate students on the benefits of full-spectrum preventive medicine. For the past five years she has hosted a monthly program called “Health Yeah!” which offers students and community members an opportunity to share healthy, home-cooked vegetarian food, as well as cooking techniques, recipes, and preventive health education.
Schaper is a graduate of the Pikeville College of Osteopathic Medicine (now Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine). She completed her family practice residency at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY in 2008 and moved to Texas where she cared for soldiers and their dependents at Thomas Moore Health Center on post at Ft. Hood for several years. Schaper is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Practice in family practice and has been working with WVSOM and clinical education since 2013.
Dr. Schaper has been a Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist since 2020.
Brian Nelson Griffith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Science
Education / Training
Ph.D. from West Virginia University School of Medicine
M.S. from West Virginia University; Morgantown, WV
B.S. in biology and B.A. in chemistry from Alderson-Broaddus College; Philippi, WV
Dr. Brian Griffith is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Science at WVSOM. With expertise in Biochemistry and Nutrition, he co-developed the Culinary Medicine Elective alongside Drs. Schaper, Foster, and pharmacist Amy Jasperse. In his laboratory, Dr. Griffith uses a variety of molecular, histological, and biochemical approaches to study pharmacological and nutrition therapies for the prevention of myocardial infarction induced cell death. Outside of the laboratory, Dr. Griffith is involved in the HIS & HER Health Literacy Campaign, the Culinary Medicine Group, and the Community Health Education Resource Program at WVSOM. Additionally, he is a strong advocate of improving the health status of rural Appalachians. His research was the first to show a disparity between self-perceived health and health status and behaviors within rural Appalachia. It is ultimately his goal to stimulate a change in public health messaging and health programs targeted at rural Appalachians.
Amy Jasperse, RPh, CDCES, CCMS
Amy is a pharmacist and diabetes care and education specialist serving southern West Virginia and is among a small group of pharmacists with this designation across West Virginia. Her current role is in clinical practice at the Robert C. Byrd Clinic in Lewisburg. The clinic is headquartered on the campus of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM).
The West Virginia native is a 1995 graduate of the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy. She has over 30 years of pharmacy experience as a technician, pharmacist, and educator. She served as adjunct faculty for the University of Kentucky and the University of Cincinnati Colleges of Pharmacy and will start precepting students from the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy in the spring of 2022. In 2009, Amy became a certified diabetes educator and developed an accredited diabetes education program for a local independent pharmacy group in 2011 and another for the Robert C. Byrd Clinic in 2020.
Amy has worked voluntarily with Dr. Foster since 2015 to start a culinary medicine elective on the campus of WVSOM. In December 2019, she began her new role at Robert C. Byrd Clinic She also works as the consultant pharmacist for the clinic doing monthly clinic inspections, developing policies and procedures, providing drug education to the staff, and coordinating covid vaccinations.
Disease prevention and reversal through plant-based nutrition is a particular interest for Amy and she became a certified culinary medicine specialist in September 2020.
Shinichi Asano, Ph.D.
Shinichi Asano, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He teaches physiology and has been involved in research related to the pathophysiological mechanisms of metabolic syndrome and its modulation by therapeutic lifestyle modifications. He received his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the West Virginia School of Medicine. He enjoys cooking Japanese food and tending his garden in his spare time.
Matt Morris CSCS, NSCA
Matt Morris is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He has experienced over a decade of success utilizing baseline fitness assessments to deliver physical performance improvements to clients ages 8-80, ranging from sedentary individuals to professional athletes starting exercise programs. Mr. Morris studied exercise science at Marshall University where he was a 4-year letterman and 2-year starter as a wide receiver with the Thundering Herd. After a short pursuit to land a spot on an NFL roster, he began his fitness career as a strength coach intern in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007. In 2008, he relocated back to Southern West Virginia to meet a need in sports performance by creating the fitness service “Elite Sports Training” that offered the first result-based training programs in the area. Since then, his fitness services have been utilized by Mountain State University, The University of Charleston, Active Southern WV, WVU Tech, Access Health and many other Southern West Virginia youth athletes and adults aspiring to meet their physical potential. Matt currently serves as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at The Greenbrier Clinic and currently resides in Beckley with his wife, Krista, and their two children, Maddox and Everly.
As a member of the Culinary Medicine team, Morris co-leads a three-hour session on exercise physiology and teaches how to give patients home exercises that don’t require a gym membership.
Kelley Sills, LPC
Kelley Sills is a WVSOM student counselor and learning specialist.She is a licensed professional counselor and a certified advanced yoga teacher with a focus on the therapeutic application of yoga.Kelley received her bachelor’s degree from Emory University and master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Marshall University.She holds a Kripalu Yoga teaching certificate and an advanced yoga teaching certificate from the Center for Integrative Yoga Studies.
Culinary Medicine Programming
Medical Student Programming
At WVSOM, there are 200 medical students per class with the first two years taking place on campus.Third and fourth-year students are spread across the statewide campus network for their clinical rotations.The Culinary Medicine elective curriculum is offered to 3rd and 4th year clinical students as a two-week elective; two sessions in the fall and four in the spring after fourth year students have completed residency selections.
The curriculum offers interactive seminars stimulated by directed studies. It includes patient encounters in the clinic with a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and one-on-one clinical nutrition encounters under a family medicine physician.Sessions with a Ph.D. exercise physiologist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist teach students how to give patients simple, inexpensive, tailored exercises that can be performed at home without going to a gym.Also included are two 1.5-hour interactive sessions with a certified advanced yoga instructor focusing on therapeutic applications of yoga including gustatory mindfulness.
The elective also contains two half day cooking sessions learning knife skills, recipes, and how whole-food plant-based nutrition can help reverse degenerative diseases. After cooking, students offer free nutrition education sessions, with tastings, to the community at large, introducing whole-food plant-based nutrition.
Other hands-on experiences include a three-hour tour of a local grocery store to better understand nutrition labels and marketing tactics that complicate identifying healthy foods. Dining as a group at a local restaurant to discuss how the menu could be improved upon to provide more whole-food plant-based options is also included as well as a “Culinary Walk in the Woods” with a medicinal plant expert to learn about edible and medicinal plants.
Students visit an “organic” farm in Greenbrier County that supplies a local Farmer’s Market. The students tour greenhouses, gardens, solar, wind and geothermal power systems to better understand agriculture and food production. They also learn about the “FARMacy Program”, in which physicians write prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables so patients can obtain them affordably or for free at the local Farmer’s Market.This is reimbursed through a grant.
The culinary medicine group at WVSOM has recently applied for a grant to take our culinary medicine curriculum into the first- and second-year core curriculum which we anticipate being piloted on 50 students for academic year 2022-2023.
WVSOM was instrumental in designing and acquiring the Clingman Center culinary medicine commercial kitchen at Montwell Commons in downtown Lewisburg, WV.The center connects clinical and academic partners with local communities of Greenbrier Valley to enhance learning, partnership, and quality of life.
Since launching the Culinary Medicine Program at WVSOM, the team envisioned building a kitchen for teaching activities and community engagement. This goal came to fruition in 2019 when the Clingman Kitchen opened for use by partnering organizations.
Programming is sanctioned by the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) and funded by the Culinary Medicine Group through grants, sponsors, and student contributions for the elective.
Following a period of rapid growth and expansion through the construction of the Clingman Kitchen, the Culinary Medicine Group faced several pandemic-related challenges. Despite rapidly and successfully converting programming to the virtual setting, the elective did not receive approval from their accreditation body during the early pandemic era. After receiving approval for the June 2021 session, they had to adapt to less engagement from learners, who were more hesitant to leave their cameras and microphones turned on throughout the session. Some of the field trips had to be done by video recording and the cooking sessions were done virtually in real time. An overhead camera and audio system allowed students to view coverage from the Clingman Kitchen.