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Contact the Metabolic Kitchen and Human Feeding Laboratory 


Dustin J. Burnett, MS, RDN 

Dustin completed his undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley.  He completed his graduate education at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and his dietetic internship at Tufts Medical Center’s Frances Stern Nutrition Center.  He has worked in numerous commercial foodservice operations including grocery stores, a seafood and butcher shop, restaurants, a bakery, a skilled nursing and assisted living facility, and coffeehouses.  His experience working in research and metabolic kitchens started by serving as a study coordinator at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, which led to foodservice worker positions in the former General Clinical Research Centers at San Francisco General Hospital and Tufts Medical Center, and as a nutrition technician at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.  Dustin also brings to the WHNRC a background in culinary arts.

Annie Kan, NDTR 

Annie completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Davis.  She started as a student intern in one of the WHNRC analytical laboratories, then as a student intern in the MKHFL, then as a paid nutrition technician in the MKHFL.  She now works in the MKHFL as a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR).  Annie has a comprehensive set of skills, knowledge, and abilities from working on all parts of human feeding studies, including bioanalytical processing, foodservice, training participants to use the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24), assisting with nutrient database mapping projects, study coordinating, standardizing and streamlining food production operation systems, and assisting with the designing, planning, developing, and producing of tightly controlled diets for human feeding studies. 

Beverly Miller, RDN 

Beverly completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Davis.  She started at the WHNRC as a foodservice worker in the MKHFL and served as a nutrition educator, counseling participants in one of the WHNRC’s weight-loss studies.  She has worked as a foodservice dietitian and clinical dietitian, and currently works as a research dietitian in the MKHFL and as a study coordinator in the WHNRC’s Human Studies Unit.  Beverly also brings to the WHNRC a background in computer science.

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The Metabolic Kitchen and Human Feeding Laboratory (MKHFL) is an indispensable research support service with the skills, knowledge, and ability to support the Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) scientists in their efforts to improve the health of all Americans.  The MKHFL provides safe, efficient, and effective food production resources that are needed for conducting simultaneous well-controlled human feeding and behavioral counseling studies.

The MKHFL is a dedicated space with multiple work stations used for safely producing palatable whole and liquid formula foods that are used in controlled human feeding studies.  The MKHFL supports the WHNRC scientists through designing, producing, and serving foods that meet study-specific criteria for multiple types of study designs intended to produce valid scientific results.

MKHFL services include study menu development, energy and nutrient analyses by calculation, and homogenate preparation for biochemical analysis.  The MKHFL is equipped to produce a variety of research meal types, including standard meals, scaled meals, weighed meals, and ad lib meals such as buffets and market baskets.  The MKHFL can also perform weigh-backs and tabulate diet intake based on subjective measures using checklists and visual inspection of returned foods.

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Controlled Feeding Studies

The MKHFL space is dedicated for producing foods only for feeding studies.  Meals can be eaten in-house or be packed “to go” for study volunteers to take home.  The MKHFL also performs education on food safety, dietary adherence, behavioral counseling, and other criteria to meet the specific needs of the WHNRC scientists.  Quality control checkpoints are embedded within the production system to better ensure safety, accuracy, and precision in study food delivery.

Study foods and meals are designed by research-trained Registered Dietitians Nutritionists (RDNs) and Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTRs), and can be controlled for energy, single or multiple nutrients and nutrient ratios, food grouping categories, and other specialized food components using research-quality data from a variety of sources such as the Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR), ProNutra, FoodData Central, Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED), and the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS), to name a few.

The core crew of the MKHFL includes RDNs, and NDTRs who are ServSafe®-certified.  The MKHFL also hosts student interns and additional staffing primarily through the Clinical Nutrition Program at the University of California, Davis who are also trained in foodservice management, food safety, and nutrition.  All staff and interns have completed the Biomedical Researcher training through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program.

The MKHFL can control for labile food components that are sensitive to oxygen, light, and heat.  The MKHFL has food grade nitrogen gas for reducing oxygen, has the capability to package foods in light-impermeable packaging, and can store foods under low light conditions.


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Key functions of the MKHFL include the following:

Selected Publications

Grapov D, Fiehn O, Campbell C, Chandler CJ, Burnett DJ, Souza EC, Casazza GA, Keim NL, Hunter GR, Fernandez JR, Garvey WT, Hoppel CL, Harper ME, Newman JW, Adams SH. Impact of a weight loss and fitness intervention on exercise-associated plasma oxylipin patterns in obese, insulin-resistant, sedentary women. Physiol Rep. 2020 Sep;8(17):e14547. (DOI: 10.14814/phy2.14547)

Mo Z, Huang S, Burnett DJ, Rutledge JC, Hwang DH. Endotoxin May Not Be the Major Cause of Postprandial Inflammation in Adults Who Consume a Single High-Fat or Moderately High-Fat Meal. J Nutr. 2020 May 1;150(5):1303-1312. (DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa003.)

De Leon A, Burnett DJ, Rust BM, Casperson SL, Horn WF, Keim NL. Liking and Acceptability of Whole Grains Increases with a 6-Week Exposure but Preferences for Foods Varying in Taste and Fat Content Are Not Altered: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020 Mar 9;4(3):nzaa023. (DOI: 10.1093/cdn/nzaa023)

Krishnan S, Lee F, Burnett DJ, Kan A, Bonnel EL, Allen LH, Adams SH, Keim NL. Challenges in Designing and Delivering Diets and Assessing Adherence: A Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluating the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020 Feb 13;4(3):nzaa022. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzaa022.

Chin EL, Simmons G, Bouzid YY, Kan A, Burnett DJ, Tagkopoulos I, Lemay DG. Nutrient Estimation from 24-Hour Food Recalls Using Machine Learning and Database Mapping: A Case Study with Lactose. Nutrients. 2019 Dec 13;11(12):3045. (DOI: 10.3390/nu11123045)

Grapov D, Fiehn O, Campbell C, Chandler CJ, Burnett DJ, Souza EC, Casazza GA, Keim NL, Newman JW, Hunter GR, Fernandez JR, Garvey WT, Hoppel CL, Harper ME, Adams SH. Exercise plasma metabolomics and xenometabolomics in obese, sedentary, insulin-resistant women: impact of a fitness and weight loss intervention. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Dec 1;317(6):E999-E1014. (DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00091.2019)

Lemay DG, Huang S, Huang L, Alkan Z, Kirschke C, Burnett DJ, Wang YE, Hwang DH. Temporal changes in postprandial blood transcriptomes reveal subject-specific pattern of expression of innate immunity genes after a high-fat meal. J Nutr Biochem. 2019 Oct;72:108209. (DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2019.06.007)

Krishnan S, Adams SH, Allen LH, Laugero KD, Newman JW, Stephensen CB, Burnett DJ, Witbracht M, Welch LC, Que ES, Keim NL. A randomized controlled-feeding trial based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on cardiometabolic health indexes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Aug 1;108(2):266-278. (DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy113)

Baldiviez LM, Keim NL, Laugero KD, Hwang DH, Huang L, Woodhouse LR, Burnett DJ, Zerofsky MS, Bonnel EL, Allen LH, Newman JW, Stephensen CB.  Design and implementation of a cross-sectional nutritional phenotyping study in healthy US adults.  BMC Nutrition 2017 (DOI: 10.1186/s40795-017-0197-4)

Widaman AM, Keim NL, Burnett DJ, Miller B, Witbracht MG, Widaman KF, Laugero KD.  A Potential Tool for Clinicians:  Evaluating a Computer-Led Dietary Assessment Method in Overweight and Obese Women during Weight Loss.  Nutrients  2017 (PMID:28257040).

Zhang J, Light AR, Hoppel CL, Campbell C, Chandler CJ, Burnett DJ, Souza EC, Casazza GA, Hughen RW, Keim NL, Newman JW, Hunter GR, Fernandez JR, Garvey WT, Harper ME, Fiehn O, Adams SH. Acylcarnitines as markers of exercise-associated fuel partitioning, xenometabolism, and potential signals to muscle afferent neurons. Exp Physiol. 2017 Jan 1;102(1):48-69. (doi: 10.1113/EP086019. Epub 2016 Dec 12)

Ono-Moore KD, Snodgrass RG, Huang S, Singh S, Freytag TL, Burnett DJ, Bonnel EL, Woodhouse LR, Zunino SJ, Peerson JM, Lee JY, Rutledge JC, Hwang DH.  Postprandial Inflammatory Responses and Free Fatty Acids in Plasma of Adults Who Consumed a Moderately High-Fat Breakfast with and without Blueberry Powder in a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.  J Nutr.  2016 (PMID:27306892).

Zhu C, Cai Y, Gertz ER, La Frano MR, Burnett DJ, Burri BJ.  Red palm oil-supplemented and biofortified cassava gari increase the carotenoid and retinyl palmitate concentrations of triacylglycerol-rich plasma in women.  Nutr Res.  2015 (PMID:26319612).

Campbell C, Grapov D, Fiehn O, Chandler CJ, Burnett DJ, Souza EC, Casazza GA, Gustafson MB, Keim NL, Newman JW, Hunter GR, Fernandez JR, Garvey WT, Harper ME, Hoppel CL, Meissen JK, Take K, Adams SH.  Improved metabolic health alters host metabolism in parallel with changes in systemic xeno-metabolites of gut origin.  PLoS One.  2014 (PMID:24416208).

La Frano MR, Woodhouse LR, Burnett DJ, Burri BJ.  Biofortified cassava increases beta-carotene and vitamin A concentrations in the TAG-rich plasma layer of American women.  Br J Nutr.  2013 (PMID:23332040).

Stephensen CB, Zerofsky M, Burnett DJ, Lin YP, Hammock BD, Hall LM, McHugh T.  Ergocalciferol from mushrooms or supplements consumed with a standard meal increases 25-hydroxyergocalciferol but decreases 25-hydroxycholecalciferol in the serum of healthy adults.  J Nutr.  2012 (PMID:22623385).