New faculty profile: Adam Kuchnia focuses on clinical nutrition

Adam Kuchnia recently joined the faculty in the Department of Nutritional Sciences as an assistant professor in August 2017.

What is your educational/professional background?

  • Doctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota, Department of Food Science and Nutrition
  • BSc – University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Exercise and Sport Science
  • MSc – University of Wisconsin-Stout, Human and Clinical Nutrition
  • PhD – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Nutrition

How did you get into your field of research?

I was always interested in what I fed my body, but it wasn’t until I noticed a direct relationship between my performance in athletics and diet that I really started to become a student of nutrition.

What are the main goals of your current research program?

Currently, my research focuses on clinical nutrition, lean tissue/muscle assessment, and protein metabolism in various clinical populations. I am particularly interested in novel applications to refine protein recommendations with the goal of preserving muscle mass and preventing malnutrition. My research also aims to develop noninvasive methods to accurately identify the development of malnutrition and monitor changes in muscle mass at the bedside while optimizing nutrition interventions throughout medical treatment. Overall, I am passionate about improving patient outcomes and quality of life in clinical populations.

What attracted you to UW-Madison?

I was very much attracted to the impressive reputation and the strong research environment of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and of the University as a whole.

What was your first visit to campus like?

Having grown up only 1.5 hours away, I was shocked at how little I knew about the campus. The size and beauty of campus, being tucked between the lakes, was inspiring. The vibrant atmosphere was infectious and I knew I wanted to be part of it.

Favorite place on campus?

Being so new, I am still exploring and getting to know my surroundings, but I am a big fan of the Memorial Union Terrace.

What are you most enjoying so far about working here?

The expertise across campus is tremendous and everyone seems very willing to collaborate. The opportunity to conduct meaningful research is immense.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.

My research can be extended to benefit any clinical (pediatric and adult) and aging population. Through nutritional intervention we are hoping to maintain adequate muscle quantity and quality in order to achieve meaningful longevity. So yes, I absolutely think my work relates to the Wisconsin Idea, as its value truly extends beyond the physical walls of the University.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?

Patients can lose upward of 13% of muscle mass in the first week of hospitalization. This lends to research showing that less than 50% of individuals working before undergoing an intensive care unit (ICU) stay are back to work within the first year after discharge. Sorry to get all “Negative Nancy” on everyone.

Hobbies/other interests:

Almost all sports, strength training, and outdoor activities.