Domingo J Pinero
"I'm trying to determine if there's a difference in the iron status between obese and non obese children."
"Most nutritional problems," says Domingo Pinero, "are due to eating habits that were implanted at a young age. The earlier people are able to change those habits, the better they will be at optimizing their development and growth."
Originally from the Canary Islands, Pinero came to the United States from Venezuela in order to pursue a PhD in Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. There he worked with John Beard, one of the world's foremost authorities on iron nutrition and cognition.
His postdoctoral work was on the relationship between iron in the diet and neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Pinero's interests then became broader and he began to study nutrition in terms of community. This led, in 2002, to Pinero's becoming an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, where he teaches courses in the clinical nutrition program. "The Department is the ideal place for me to do my work. And then you have New York City, which is the perfect laboratory of community and mixed populations and how those things relate to nutrition."
At NYU, Pinero's research focuses on child obesity prevention. Currently he is engaged in several projects that deal with this.
One project is an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). "I'm trying to determine if there's a difference in the iron status between obese and non obese children."
Another project, in its beginning stages, partners Pinero with doctors at Bellevue Hospital to develop a child obesity prevention program. Pinero and colleagues will follow Latino infants and their families for the first three years of the infants' lives. "It's assumed that to be overweight under three years of age doesn't really affect being overweight later in life. But there is anecdotal data that seems to indicate that the earlier you start putting weight on, the more difficult it is to take it off." Pinero is also interested in beginning research on the use of dietary supplements in special populations, such as the HIV/AIDS community.
Masters and doctoral students assist Pinero in his research, and he finds their eclectic backgrounds invigorating. "A majority of our students are doing nutrition as a second career," he says. "They never studied nutrition as undergraduates - they studied to be journalists, psychologists, etc. Their different backgrounds enrich the program."
Pinero loves the challenge of teaching people from so many disciplines. "I find it very rewarding, especially when students come back to me and say they are using my notes in their field work." To serve his students even better, Pinero hopes that the Department will continue to move to the forefront of advances in nutrition. "When our students graduate, we want them to be leaders in the field."