The Launch of The Nutrition Science Initiative

This morning, at 9am Eastern Time, we officially launched The Nutrition Science Initiative — NuSI (pronounced “new see”). NuSI is a non-profit organization, technically a 501(c)(3). Its purpose  is to facilitate and fund rigorous, well-controlled experiments targeted at resolving unambiguously many of the outstanding nutrition controversies — to answer the question definitively of what constitutes a healthy diet.

Our conventional dietary wisdom, as I’ve described in my books, is based on science that was simply not adequate to the task of establishing reliable knowledge — poorly-controlled human experiments, observational studies incapable of establishing cause and effect, and animal studies that may or may not say anything meaningful about what happens in humans. NuSI was founded to address this issue and by doing so, we hope, reduce the social and economic burden of obesity and its related diseases. NuSi’s co-founder, and my collaborator in this endeavor, is Peter Attia, who will serve as NuSI’s president.

Peter and I started NuSI as a nights and weekends endeavor with the hope of raising the necessary money to keep the organization running and fund the necessary experiments using crowdfunding  techniques on the internet. Last November, however, we heard from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation expressing interest in what we were trying to accomplish. After many meetings and their due diligence, LJAF has provided NuSI with a seed grant to get our organization up and running and a verbal commitment to help fund some of the key studies. For the past six months, we’ve been working days, nights, and weekends to make it happen. We’ve opened an office in San Diego (where Peter lives) and, as mentioned in my previous post, we’re hiring staff, a research associates and eventually a research director as well.

The support we’ve received  for NuSI has already been remarkable. If you go to the NuSI website, you can see our board of directors, our scientific advisory board and our board of advisors just to get a feel for the researchers and individuals who believe in the mission and are dedicated to making this work.

As to the mission itself, Peter and I have already had meetings with researchers from around the country to discuss and begin the design process of the research that NuSI hopes to fund. These researchers are all excellent scientists, and they’re all skeptical of the hypotheses that we hope to test — the ideal combination.  The experiments will be human trials; they’ll all be rigorously well-controlled, and they’ll all be aimed at identifying unambiguously the causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes, elucidating the underlying mechanisms involved. If all goes well, we’ll move later onto studies that look at longterm effectiveness of dietary therapies based on what we’ve learned.

Both Peter and I have our beliefs about what we’re likely to find, as do the researchers we’ve recruited to join the effort. As we say in our founder’s letter on the NuSI site, we’re not invested in particular outcomes, we’re invested in establishing reliable knowledge on the relationship between diet and disease and so scientifically-sound solutions to the health problems that beset us. One of the quotes that we use on the NuSI website and that I’ve taken to using in my lectures is particularly apt. It’s from Robert Burton’s 1893 book, The Anatomy of Melancholy: “It is in vain to speak of cures, or think of remedies, until such time as we have considered of the causes . . . cures must be imperfect, lame, and to no purpose, wherein the causes have not first been searched.”

NuSI was founded on the premise that the reason we are beset today by epidemics  of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the reason physicians and researchers think these diseases are so recalcitrant to dietary therapies, is because of our flawed understanding of their causes. We believe that with a concerted effort and the best possible science, this problem can be fixed.  We hope you’ll give your support to NuSi in anyway you can.