Rodney Dietert, PhD

Rodney Dietert, PhD

Rodney Dietert, Ph.D., is an internationally known author, lecturer, scientist, editor, media personality, and educator. He has turned his wide-ranging expertise toward the issue of sustainable healthcare focusing on health risk reductions in the young to protect against later-life chronic and infectious diseases. His emphasis is on a systems biology approach to microbiome and the immune system.

Rodney was first appointed to the Cornell faculty in 1977. He is currently Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and previously held the title of Professor of Immunotoxicology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He was also a faculty member in the Cornell Institute for Comparative and Environment Toxicology.

Rodney has authored peer-reviewed papers in more than 70 different scientific journals ranging from environmental health and pediatric medicine/neonatology publications to nutrition, metabolism, immune, neurological and reproductive journals. He was elected President of the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology and previously led Cornell's programs in immunology, toxicology, and risk reduction for breast cancer. Among his awards are the James G. Wilson Award for “Best Paper of the Year” from the Society of Birth Defects Research and Prevention and the award designation of “Microbiome Hero” at the first-ever World Microbiome Day celebration.

As a speaker in a wide range of different forums, Rodney has lectured in more than 100 different cities across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. His audiences have included scientific societies, governmental organizations, colleges and universities, private companies, health advocacy groups and alternative forums. He has given invited lectures at the NAS (Institute of Medicine), the NIH, the FDA, the EPA (Health Effects), the USDA (NIFA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAAS, and Summit Annual Conferences, and the Smithsonian Institute. Rodney was invited to provide a U. S. Congressional briefing on environmental topics and served on panels for the NIH, the U.S. EPA, the USDA, the World Health Organization, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (Institute of Medicine).

His most recent general audience book concerns the microbiome, health, and disease and is titled: The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life (Dutton, Penguin Random House, 2016). Previous, he co-authored the books Strategies for Protecting Your Child's Immune System and Science Sifting (World Scientific Publishing) and edited two state-of-the-art technical books in human health: Immunotoxicity Testing (Humana Press, 2010) and Immunotoxicity, Immune Dysfunction, and Chronic Disease (Springer/Humana Press, 2012).

Dietert received his education from Duke University (BS degree) and the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.) prior to joining the Cornell faculty in 1977. One of the pivotal experiences that propelled him to a career in science was a summer high school research experience at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Ironically, Rodney was trained primarily in genetics but has devoted his career to environmental health research aimed at better protecting children and providing them with the best opportunity for a lifetime of good health. In 2012, he began to work on the microbiome following a middle-of-the- night dream idea.

Rodney’s research and teaching activities have extended beyond the health sciences. In 2012 Rodney introduced a new course at Cornell applying contemplative tools for creative problem solving. This blossomed into a variety of new educational programs and workshops including annual presentations for new international student orientation at Cornell. His lectures and peer-reviewed papers were not restricted to science but included Scottish history. This work resulted in acknowledgements by the National Museums of Scotland and his recent election as a “Fellow” in the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Rodney’s media experience ranges from print (New York Times) and radio show contributions (Syracuse and Rochester, NY, Hartford, CT and Dublin, Ireland stations) to web podcasts, webinars (Society for Risk Analysis), interviews (World Asthma Foundation, American College of Toxicology) and national television interviews (ABC's World News Tonight). He also appeared in the 2014 award-winning documentary movie Microbirth.