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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


The ACNC is an intramural research program of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) housed on the campus of one of the ten largest children’s hospitals in the United States, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock. The ACH is located 0.8 miles from the state’s only medical school, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The ACH is staffed with physicians from UAMS and serves as the major teaching hospital for pediatric care. A private research institute (the ACH Research Institute, ACHRI) provides a research environment for UAMS faculty members housed on the ACH campus. The ACHRI has about 100,000 sq. ft. of research space and all the grants and contracts funding this research are awarded to the ACHRI.



Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center provides a wonderful environment for our research participants, our scientists, our team members and our partners. At the ACNC, children and their families are studied relative to nutritional status and commonly eaten foods. Controlled human studies assessing metabolic, endocrinologic, and immunological function are used to develop dietary strategies for healthy and safe human development, improved nutritional status, healthy maturation of Americans, and for improving the nutritional quality and safety of the nation's food supply. 

Cognitive and Behavioral functions, as well as other aspects of brain function, are assessed relative to nutritional status and diet. Animal and cellular models are developed and utilized to study human development to learn from and prevent certain diseases. These animal studies establish new hypotheses, test existing ones, and clarify metabolic and endocrine functions and consequences of nutrients and dietary factors (phytochemicals) in foods of the common diet. Animal Studies are also conducted where information cannot be safely or readily obtained in humans, especially in children.

ACNC is housed in a two-story facility that was completed in 2006 and consists of almost 50,000 square feet. It contains a six bed live-in research unit, a large out patient unit, a state of the art brain function laboratory, and a nutritional assessment laboratory.

The Human Studies Program is housed on the first floor of the ACNC and contains: the Inpatient Unit; the Outpatient Unit; the Recruiting Program; Anthropometrics/Body Composition Laboratory; Clinical Nutrition Laboratory; Psychological Testing Laboratory; and Brain Development/Function Laboratory.

The Human Studies Facility is organized by specialty (Core) to ensure all components of our research studies are fully equipped and appropriately staffed. The Inpatient Unit is staffed 6 days a week.

Learn more about our different Cores:


The Inpatient Unit, established in 1998, was designed to house the best tools and equipment available to clinicians and researchers while maintaining a high level of comfort for our participants.  It has 6 overnight rooms with fully equipped bathrooms, two clinic rooms dedicated to the measurement of food intake and diet evaluation, a lounge with a large TV/DVD/computer games, a large play room, a nurses' station, two interview rooms, a dining room and a kitchen.

The Outpatient Unit has four clinic rooms, two of which have one-way observation windows, an indirect calorimetry room, a phlebotomy room and blood preparation lab.  

The Human Nutrition Laboratory contains all the facilities to process human samples (urine, blood, tissues): laminar flow hoods; incubators; centrifuges; refrigerators/freezers, etc.

The Anthropometrics/Body Composition Laboratory has three body composition labs, a quiet room for infant feeding, two anthropometric rooms and office space for nutritionists and dieticians. 

The Brain Development/Function Laboratory has three sound attenuated suites and office space for the entire staff.

The Psychological Testing Laboratory has two testing rooms especially designed and equipped for children and their parents, as well as an interconnecting observational room and a waiting room.

Last Modified: 8/29/2011