Cora Best


Cora Best

Graduate Student
372 Martha van Rennselaer
Division of Nutritional Sciences
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Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

I am completing my PhD under the direction of Dr. Kimberly O'Brien, whose lab specializes in mass spectrometry, clinical chemistry, and molecular techniques for the study of nutrition in pregnant and pediatric populations. My course of study is Human Nutrition, with minors in Epidemiology and Reproductive Physiology. The goal of my dissertation research is to improve the evaluation of vitamin D status during human pregnancy. 

I am interested in good solutions for improving public health and nutrition status. In 2007, I earned a MHS in International Health, Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I worked for several years before coming to Cornell in 2013, first as a nutritionist with the United Nations World Food Programme, then as Clinical Trials Coordinator for the Weight Management Program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. I aspire to contribute to and foster collaborations to improve public health and nutrition research and practice capacity.





Current Professional Activities:

American Society for Nutrition, Student Member

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Student Member

Aerobics and Fitness Association of America


Current Research Activities:

Observational studies have linked low maternal vitamin D status to increased risk of adverse health outcomes. Yet, the evidence to date is inconclusive, so clinicians rarely check the vitamin D status of pregnant women. There is controversy surrounding the blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D that represents a healthy vitamin D status. Furthermore, pregnancy induces dramatic changes in regulation of vitamin D and calcium homeostasis, but whether vitamin D status should be evaluated somewhat differently in pregnant women has not been determined. These issues impede interpretation of research on maternal vitamin D status and health outcomes. 

My research employs novel indicators of vitamin D physiology in pregnant females at risk of vitamin D deficiency. The overall goal of my research is to improve evaluation of vitamin D status and understanding of vitamin D metabolism during human pregnancy. The anticipated results may enable better research on the effects of maternal vitamin D status and eventually lead to improved clinical care. 



BA. Anthropology and English. The University of Missouri-Columbia

MHS. International Health, Human Nutrition. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health



Related Websites:

Administrative Responsibilities:

Chair, Campus Welfare Committee of the Cornell University Assembly 2014-15

Voting Member, Cornell University Assembly 2014-15

Voting Member, Cornell Graduate and Professional Student Assembly 2014-15

Field Member, Cornell Graduate and Professional Student Assembly 2013-14


Selected Publications:

Best CM, O’Brien KO, Pressman EK. Vitamin D Nutrition in Pregnancy. PeriFACTS OB/GYN Academy. Activity #16091P. 2016 Dec. University of Rochester. Rochester, NY.

Best CM, Pressman EK, Cao C, Cooper E, Guillet R, Yost OL, Galati J, Kent TR, O’Brien KO. Maternal iron status during pregnancy compared with neonatal iron status better predicts placental iron transporter expression in humans. FASEB J. 2016 Oct;30(10):3541-3550. PMID: 27402672.

Hampl S, Odar Stough C, Poppert Cordts K, Best CBlackburn K, Dreyer Gillette ML. Effectiveness of a Hospital-Based Multidisciplinary Pediatric Weight Management Program: Two-Year Outcomes of PHIT Kids. Child Obes. 2016 Feb;12(1):20-5. PMID: 26790094

O’Brien KO, Best CM. Nutrition, Adolescent Pregnancy and Bone. In: Weaver CM, Daly RM, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, editors. Nutritional Influences on Bone Health – 9th International Symposium. Springer. In-press.  

Dreyer Gillette MLOdar Stough CBest CMBeck ARHampl SE. Comparison of a condensed 12-week version and a 24-week version of a family-based pediatric weight management program. Child Obes. 2014 Oct;10(5):375-82.

Gillette ML, Stough CO, Beck AR, Maliszewski G, Best CM, Gerling JK, Summar S. Outcomes of a weight management clinic for children with special needs. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2014 May; 35(4):266-73.

Best C, Neufingerl N, Transler C, del Rosso J, van den Briel T, Osendarp S. Can multi-micronutrient food fortification improve the micronutrient status, health, growth, and cognition of schoolchildren? A systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2011 Apr;69(4):186-204.    

Best C, Neufingerl N, van Geel L, van den Briel T, Osendarp S. The nutritional status of school-aged children: why should we care? Food Nutr Bull. 2010 Sep;31(3):400-17.

Best CM, Semba RD. Impact of Parental Tobacco Use on Child Malnutrition and Survival. In: Semba RD, Bloem MW, editors. Nutrition and Health in Developing Countries, 2nd edition. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008. p. 657-676.

Best CM, Sun K, de Pee S, Sari M, Bloem MW, Semba RD. Paternal smoking and increased risk of child malnutrition among families in rural Indonesia. Tob Control. 2008 Feb;17(1):38-45.

Semba RD, de Pee S, Sun K, Best CM, Sari M, Bloem MW. Paternal Smoking and Increased Risk of Infant and Under-5 Child Mortality in Indonesia. Am J Public Health. 2008 Oct;98(10):1824-6. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Best CM, Sun K, de Pee S, Bloem MW, Stallkamp G, Semba RD. Parental Tobacco Use is Associated with Increased Risk of Child Malnutrition in Bangladesh. Nutrition. 2007 Oct;23(10):731-8.

Selected Keywords:
maternal nutrition, pregnancy, prenatal, antenatal, placenta, iron, vitamin D, child nutrition, childhood obesity, public health nutrition, public health,

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.