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New ARS Human Nutrition Research Buildings Dedicated

By Jim Core
August 26, 2003

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26—The U.S. Department of Agriculture this morning dedicated two new buildings at Beltsville, Md., that will house research on the role of food and its components in improving human health and reducing the risk of nutritionally related disorders.

The new buildings will add more than 100,000 square feet of high-quality research space to the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC). BHNRC is part of the Agricultural Research Service's Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. ARS is USDA's chief in-house scientific research agency.

The new buildings include seven research labs and a human studies facility. BHNRC had been located in four buildings. Constructed for $25 million, the new facility will house about 121 workers.

"These buildings provide BHNRC with modern laboratory facilities to replace obsolete 64-year old buildings that no longer meet current research needs," said Edward B. Knipling, acting administrator for ARS. "Data from BHNRC human studies are critically important to the recommendations for intake of various nutrients made by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences and for other dietary recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

U.S. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland was the keynote speaker. Rodney Brown, USDA deputy under secretary for Research, Education, and Economics; Knipling and other USDA officials attended the ceremony.

USDA has had the fundamental responsibility of characterizing the nutrient content of the U.S. national food supply for more than 110 years. BHNRC is the oldest and most comprehensive of six human nutrition research centers within ARS.

BHNRC laboratories conduct multi-disciplinary basic science and applied human nutrition research. This work is important to scientists, food producers, policy-makers, educators and consumers seeking a better understanding of the relationship between diet and health. BHNRC conducts national surveys of food consumption by Americans and maintains the National Nutrient Database, which is the foundation for most food labeling in this country.

About 1,000 people participated in research studies at BHNRC last year.

"While animal data are useful and important, ultimately, it is necessary to test hypotheses about the functions of, and requirements for, nutrients in humans," said BARC Director Phyllis Johnson. "It is necessary to use real food, not just pure chemical substances, because people do not normally consume single nutrients in isolation."

Scientific contact: Beverly Clevidence, Diet and Human Performance Lab, BHNRC,, phone (301) 504-8159.