Brief History of the University and the Institute

Columbia University began as King's College, which was founded in 1754 by royal grant of George II, King of England, "for the Instruction of Youth in the Learned Languages, and the Liberal Arts and Sciences." The American Revolution interrupted its program, but in 1784 it was reopened as Columbia College. In 1912 the title was formally changed to Columbia University in the City of New York. King's College organized a medical faculty in 1767 and was the first institution in the North American Colonies to confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine. In 1814 the medical faculty of Columbia College was merged with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had obtained an independent charter in 1807. In 1860, by agreement between the Trustees of the two institutions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons became the Medical Department of Columbia College. In 1891 the College of Physicians and Surgeons was formally incorporated as an integral part of the University. Since 1917 women have been admitted to the College on the same basis as men.

  • 1948

    Nutrition Institute is founded under Charles Glen King, PhD.

    Headshot of Charles King.

    The organization of the Institute begins when Dr. King is appointed acting director with the responsibility of laying the foundation for a graduate training center that helps meet the worldwide need to combat malnutrition. Dr. King is a biochemist and a pioneer in the field of nutrition research who isolated vitamin C and the properties for hexuronic acid.

  • 1957

    Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences is formally established.

    The Institute of Human Nutrition Sciences is established within the School of Public Health and Administrative Medicine (renamed the School of Public Health in 1972).

  • 1958

    W. Henry Sebrell, Jr., MD, is appointed director and receives the first students.

    A former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Sebrell is known for first recognizing and describing the dietary deficiency disease ariboflavinosis, and for making significant contributions to knowledge of dietary needs and deficiencies. During his directorship (1958–1971), 230 degrees are granted, 80 percent of them to foreign students from 46 countries. In addition, 25 postdoctoral fellows and approximately 100 special students, mostly from abroad, receive extensive training in clinical and public health nutrition.

  • 1970

    The name of the Institute is changed to the Institute of Human Nutrition.

  • 1971

    Myron Winick, MD, is appointed director.

    Dr. Winick has held important academic titles at the University of Health Sciences, Chicago Medical School and Weil Cornell Medicine and visiting professorships at universities around the world. Under his leadership, the administration is transferred from the School of Public Health to the postgraduate education division of the Faculty of Medicine, with the goal of developing research programs in human nutrition related to growth and development, nutritional diseases, and community nutrition, and expanding the teaching role of the Institute to encompass medical students and physicians.

  • 1988

    DeWitt S. Goodman, MD, is appointed third director of the Institute.

    Dr. Goodman is a leading researcher in heart disease, cholesterol metabolism, and its role in the development of heart and artery disease. Dr. Goodman initiates programs within the Institute of Human Nutrition with the goal of making the Institute a model for basic nutritional research in which the most advanced techniques of molecular and cell biology are focused on important nutritional questions.

  • 1992

    Richard J. Deckelbaum, MD, CM, FRCPC, is appointed director.

    Richard J. Deckelbaum in a suit and wearing glasses.

    Dr. Deckelbaum is known for his research concerning human plasma lipoproteins, and the cellular effects of dietary fats and free fatty acids. He has also led international programs integrating nutrition with risk factors of cardiovascular disease in children, and molecular biology of intestinal parasites with clinical and epidemiological manifestations of infection. Dr. Deckelbaum's goal for the Institute is to link public health questions directly to the basic research activities at the Institute. Other goals include broadening and strengthening clinical research and training in nutrition, and developing public health nutrition activities concerned with the roles of nutrition in health promotion and disease.

  • 2017

    IHN celebrates its 60th anniversary.

    A sheet cake for IHN's 60th anniversary.
  • 2020

    Sabrina Diano, PhD is appointed director of the IHN

    Dr. Diano’s research focuses on brain mechanisms regulating energy and glucose homeostasis using interdisciplinary approaches, including molecular biology, anatomy, biochemistry, behavior, electrophysiology and chemogenetics, in rodent models. Her studies on nutrient sensing by the brain aim to identify inter- and intra-cellular mechanisms that enable brain cells to regulate energy and glucose metabolism and how derangements of these mechanisms induce the development of metabolic disorders. Her research adds critical information to the current understanding of the central regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis and how alterations in stored energy are sensed in the brain.