Institute Founder and Director
Dr. Peter Murano
- Ph.D., Human Nutrition and Foods, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1989
- M.S., Human Nutrition and Foods, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1986
Peter Murano, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Obesity Research and Program Evaluation, and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University, served as Deputy Administrator for Special Nutrition Programs at the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 2001 until December of 2004. Dr. Murano’s office was responsible for the administration of 13 federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Child Nutrition Programs including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Commodity Nutrition Programs, with a Congressionally-appropriated budget of approximately $20 billion. Dr. Murano led an Agency team that designed and launched the Healthier US School Challenge, a recognition program intended to encourage local community policies to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and a healthier school nutrition environment, as well as the Fruit and Vegetable Pilot that brought free fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren.
As Institute Director, Dr. Murano assumes administrative responsibility for the unit. This includes full budgetary and resource oversight and decision-making for all organization, strategic planning, contract negotiation, and staff hiring. He serves as liaison with faculty, staff, government agencies, legislative committees, businesses, community leaders and others, often traveling to represent the Institute, Texas AgriLIFE Research, and the Texas A&M University System at meetings and conferences on relevant matters. He maintains a current knowledge base in obesity, nutrition, food science and technology, and health-related program and policy evaluation.
Dr. Murano actively works to develop strong statewide collaborations across academic components and institutions, as well as between academic universities/institutions, clinical institutions, and community leaders in the areas of obesity research and prevention, and foods, nutrition, and health. This effort enables the formation of specific stakeholder partnerships including those with key federal health and nutrition agencies in order to facilitate new research collaborations. Dr. Murano oversees the application of the vision and mission of the Institute, and immediately supervises the Institute’s division directors in scientific research and in program evaluation. He leads and coordinates grant proposal writing activities and funded project activities, including report writing and manuscript preparation. He invites research and extension faculty having expertise in molecular nutrition, food product development and testing, social/ behavioral/ psychological impacts in food and activity/lifestyle choices, the built environment, and program assessment to develop concept papers and research proposals, and to participate in seminars through collaboration with U.T. Southwestern in Dallas. In his personal research program, he accepts undergraduate and graduate students to assist with nutrition program evaluations, as well as food product development and testing research that may provide new information regarding the link between specific food biomolecules and hunger, sensory appeal, satiety signals, and inflammation These combined activities will enable the Institute to increasingly serve as an operational base for interdisciplinary faculty and students to develop funded obesity-related research projects, thereby enhancing the focus and visibility for obesity research at Texas AgriLIFE Research, AgriLIFE Extension, and Texas A&M University.