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Artist's rendering of new facility.
Artist's rendering of new ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., northeast of San Francisco.

Public Dedication Today for ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center

By Marcia Wood
August 15, 2006

DAVIS, Calif., Aug. 15—The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) today dedicated a new $25-million laboratory and office building for the agency's Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) here. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of USDA.

The 49,000-square-foot structure is situated on two acres of the University of California-Davis, which enhances collaboration with UC-Davis faculty.

The research center's team of 85 scientists, technicians and other specialists includes experts in nutrition, exercise physiology, chemistry, immunology and related disciplines. According to center director Lindsay H. Allen, the researchers specialize in exploring new and healthful ways to fight obesity, America's No. 1 nutrition problem.

"The scientists of WHNRC also conduct pioneering studies to discover how nutrients and nutrient-like compounds in foods and beverages can help prevent chronic diseases that are among the leading causes of death in America," said Gale A. Buchanan, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "That list includes heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancer."
Increasingly, the research of these scientists has encompassed nutrigenomics, an emerging field which benefits from still-unfolding discoveries in human genome research. Nutrigenomics studies, for example, will speed discovery of how genes influence the body's ability to absorb and use essential nutrients.

The Davis scientists have won major national and international awards for their research, and have published their findings in many of the world's leading English-language scientific journals that document research in nutrition, immunology, food chemistry and other fields.

The ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center was established at the Presidio of San Francisco in 1980. The staff relocated to Davis in 1999, working in temporary quarters in nearly a dozen different buildings throughout the campus. The center is part of a nationwide network of human nutrition research centers operated by ARS.

Invited speakers at today's event included Congressman Sam Farr; Under Secretary Buchanan; Antoinette A. Betschart, ARS associate administrator; Dwayne R. Buxton, ARS Pacific West Area director; WHNRC director Allen; Charles E. Hess, professor and dean emeritus, UC-Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.