The Texas A&M AgriLife Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture, IHA, announced that Catharine “Cathy” Ross, Ph.D., has joined the Department of Nutrition in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, elevating Texas A&M’s integrated approach to public health nutrition, with an emphasis on maternal and child health.

Cathy Ross posing for a photo
Catharine “Cathy” Ross, Ph.D., scientific director of maternal/child cohort study, professor in the Department of Nutrition. (Courtesy photo)

Ross joined the IHA as the scientific director of a maternal/child cohort study and professor in the Department of Nutrition. Her addition is part of the Governor’s University Research Initiative, enacted in 2015 to help higher education public institutions in recruiting distinguished researchers from around the world to Texas.

Ross is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. She has twice served on the Food and Nutrition Board of the Health and Medicine Division, forming networks with leading academic centers across the country.

With the addition of Ross, the IHA and the Department of Nutrition now have three National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine members with IHA Director Patrick Stover, Ph.D., also a National Academy of Sciences member, and IHA Associate Director for Precision Nutrition Regan Bailey, Ph.D., registered dietician and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“Thanks to Governor Abbott’s University Research Initiative, we’re investing in top talent that will make the IHA a nationally known name,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Dr. Ross’ leadership will be instrumental in our ability to improve public health in Texas and across the country.”

Building leadership and response

Ross’ appointment is the latest in a series of leadership and research advances at IHA, the world’s first academic institute to bring together precision nutrition, responsive agriculture and behavioral and social science studies to reduce diet-related chronic disease.

“We are honored Dr. Ross has joined the Department of Nutrition and the IHA as we continue to elevate Texas A&M as a leader in connecting responsive agriculture, precision nutrition, and social and behavioral healthy living research for the benefit of public health,” said Stover.

Ross is recognized for her extensive research with vitamins A and D, pregnancy, lactation, and neonatal lung and immune responses.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Ross and our IHA leadership team on upcoming opportunities and innovative approaches to improve maternal and child health outcomes and address the chronic disease risk resulting from suboptimal nutrition during these life stages,” said Bailey.

Ross will also help position the Department of Nutrition and the IHA at the forefront of integrating basic science into community health projects. She will support faculty recruitment efforts in applied nutrition and oversee the current team to drive research discoveries, and train and mentor students and postdoctoral fellows.

“The addition of Dr. Ross expands our capacity to take an integrated approach to community nutrition with an emphasis on improving pregnancy outcomes, and fostering the department’s micronutrient research,” said Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, Ph.D., registered dietician and IHA associate director for Healthy Living as well as a professor in the Department of Nutrition.

Ross’ career reflects a long-standing commitment to academic affairs and public service, publishing over 270 peer-reviewed research articles, book chapters and reviews. Most recently, she served as the head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University.

Ross also served as a scientific adviser to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.

Ross earned her undergraduate education at the University of California at Davis, and master’s degree in nutrition and doctorate degree in biochemistry from Cornell University.

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