Metabolism & Nutrition Research

Essential nutrition resources: Advanced technologies and support for metabolic research.

Who benefits?

  • Investigators conducting metabolism, exercise, and nutrition clinical research

What is it?

  • Innovative technologies and resources for metabolism and nutrition research
  • Experienced Registered Dietitians and support personnel

Why use it?

  • Design and implement clinical research studies
  • Incorporate innovative technologies into studies
  • Ensure participant compliance
  • Analyze data and prepare manuscripts

Metabolism & Nutrition Research (MNR) is a unique resource available to investigators conducting clinical research in the Harvard Catalyst Clinical Research Center (HCCRC) for inpatient, outpatient, and off-unit studies.

The MNR dietitians and staff closely collaborate with investigators, study teams, and professional colleagues to provide the nutrition expertise for study proposal and protocol development, quality data collection, efficient and accurate data analysis, and assistance with manuscript preparation.

Several technologies and resources are available, including dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machines at four of the HCCRC sites, as well as nutritional intake analysis and anthropometry (measurements of the human body).

The BOD POD®, a device that performs body composition analysis, is available at Boston Children's Hospital. This service is offered via the Clinical and Translational Study Unit (CTSU) in collaboration with the Gastroenterology Procedure Unit (GPU). If you need assistance in choosing the appropriate resource, please contact the Nutrition Director at the specific site. For more details and contact information, see Metabolism and Nutrition Research - Information for Investigators.

Why work with Metabolism & Nutrition Research?

A junior epidemiologist is running his first clinical trial, investigating the impact of fish consumption on the incidence of colon cancer. His mentor suggests that he engage the expertise of the HCCRC MNR staff for help designing the trial and writing the related grant proposal. The MNR staff contribute to the review of the current literature regarding the involvement of fish based nutrients in the promotion of colon cancer, and advise on the best practices for gathering nutrition information. In addition, they propose appropriate nutrition methodologies, and help develop nutrient-specific screening and assessment materials for use in his study.
A collaboration between a geriatrician and an orthopedic surgeon focuses on the link between body weight and bone density. They engage the MNR to run anthropometrics and bioelectrical impedance analysis on their study participants, and correlate this data to bone density and body composition measurements taken by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for bone mineral density and body composition.
An endocrinologist wants to conduct a trial in which one cohort tracks their nutritional intake, while the other eats pre-set menus. The MNR staff help her select the appropriate tools to collect and analyze nutrient intake data. The Metabolic Kitchen Services design and prepare weighed/controlled nutrient meals calculated to meet the specific nutrient levels defined by the research protocol. In addition, the Research Dieticians assisted the investigator by providing internet-based follow-up and monitoring for study subjects throughout the trial.

Who is using Metabolism & Nutrition Research?

"The Nutrition and Metabolism Service of the HCCRC at BWH has been an essential partner in my studies of HDL metabolism. The Nutrition service has taken the lead among the clinical centers in multicenter dietary studies; the dietitians design and prepare meticulously formulated diets that are used by all centers. Because of this expertise and execution, these studies are considered the gold standard for dietary studies that definitively establish effects of diets on risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes."
Frank M. Sacks, MD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital

"The nutrition staff helped me develop individualized diet plans for a weight loss study in which we provided all meals and snacks for subjects for up to 6 weeks. They also regularly perform indirect calorimetry and meal tolerance testing, both of which are key metabolic measurements in my research. I am very fortunate to work with such dedicated, knowledgeable, accessible, and enthusiastic colleagues."
Jody Dushay, MD, MMSc, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

"I have used the Harvard Catalyst Metabolism & Nutrition Research services for several studies, including a challenging feeding study in children and adolescents. I have found the group flexible and creative, extremely detail oriented, and willing to try new study designs and research methodologies. They engage in the work at multiple levels and really care about the outcomes of the research."
Sarah de Ferranti, MD MPH, Boston Children's Hospital

"The MGH CRC Metabolism & Nutrition Research unit has been an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and reliable partner on our project from day one. We simply would not have been able to conduct this research without them, but far from being perfunctory in their role, they have actively contributed to the project in countless ways. They are a terrific example of the kind of Harvard Catalyst-supported resource that makes clinical and translation research run smoothly at MGH."
Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Learn more about MNR in the Programs menu. To access MNR resources, use the request services page, or, contact the Nutrition Director at the HCCRC of interest.

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