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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Western Human Nutrition Research Center

Improving the quality of life through nutrition research


The Western Human Nutrition Research Center is one of six Human Nutrition Research Centers (HNRCs) supported by the Agricultural Research Service of USDA. Founded in 1980, it is the only HNRC located in the western half of the United States, and located on the campus of a major university renowned for its expertise in Food and Agriculture - the University of California, Davis.


Our current research program can be broadly described as "Linking Food, Agriculture and Health" with emphasis on:


••         Prevention of overweight and obesity, and related chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular, osteoporosis, cancer).


••         Nutritional modulation of immune function and inflammation.


••         Prevention of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.


••         Implementation and evaluation of the US Food Based Dietary Guidelines.


Our research tools include molecular and cell biology, immunology, metabolism and metabolomics, genomics, physiology and endocrinology, nutritional status assessment and biochemistry, body composition analysis, food intake behavior, and whole body calorimetry.


The approximately 105 personnel associated with the WHNRC include 12 Scientists, 15 laboratory support staff, 5 Postdocs, 5 administrative and facilities personnel, and teams who run the Analytical Core Laboratory and Physiology Support Laboratory.


There is substantial mutual benefit from collaborations with UC Davis. The Scientists all hold Adjunct Faculty positions, and more than 30 UC Davis graduate and undergraduate students are conducting research in the Center. The core of the WHNRC is the Human Studies Unit and its Metabolic Kitchen, staffed by UC Davis employees through a grant from the WHNRC. Typically there are ?20 ongoing studies with human volunteers that range from evaluating the effects of single meals to feeding defined diets for months.


WHNRC Scientists collaborate in research with faculty on the campus at Davis and at the Medical Center in Sacramento. UC Davis provides access to facilities that expand our capabilities in metabolomics, genomics, the gut microbiome and brain function. Our collaboration with the Foods for Health Institute is currently focused on effective regional implementation of the US Dietary Guidelines, and promoting healthy eating and preventing overweight in children. We also collaborate with the ARS Western Regional Research Center to assess the effects of novel food technologies and isolated food constituents.










Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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