The Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center located in eastern North Dakota is staffed by 12 senior scientists and 60 support personnel. The mission of the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center is to study the roles of foods, food factors, agriculture practices and physical activity on human health, obesity prevention, and maintenance of healthy body weight. The Center is one of six Human Nutrition Research Centers operated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a group, they form the USDA-Agriculture Research Service National Program in Human Nutrition.
The mission of the ARS National Program in Human Nutrition is to conduct basic and applied research to identify and understand how nutrients and other bio-active food components affect human health. The goal of this food-based agricultural research is to identify foods and diets, coupled with genetics and physical activity that sustain and promote health throughout the life cycle.
The Center's innovative research and achievements have:
- Demonstrated that eating farmed Atlantic salmon improves blood lipoprotein profiles and improves omega-3 fatty acid levels in people.
- Determined barriers and facilitators to following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on a rural, Northern Plains American Indian reservation.
- Established, for the first time, that physical activity reinforcement is a determinant of whether adults meet the physical activity goals outlines in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Demonstrated that adults lose weight when burning 3000 calories per week during exercise, but not when burning 1500 calories per week during exercise.
- Established that drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage with a meal significantly alters energy metabolism and the motivation to snack.
- Validated the use of skin carotenoid status as a biomarker of change in vegetable and fruit intake.
- Developed state-of-the-art lipidomic analyses for the study lipid status in humans.
- Demonstrated that physical activity and timing of eating can reduce the development of obesity and inflammation in experimental animals.
- Demonstrated maternal and paternal diet and exercise affect fat, skeletal muscle, and placental tissue epigenetic processes to contribute to offspring obesity in experimental animals.
- Demonstrated that obesity increases inflammation in the colon and changes the composition of the colonic microbiome in experimental animals.
The Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center has been a world leader in nutrition research for more than 30 years. The current foundation of our research is:
- Food Systems
- Adherence to dietary and physical activity guidelines to promote health
- Health roles of foods to prevent chronic disease
- Nutrition and Native American Health
The Center has numerous partnerships with regional, national, and international universities, local, state, and federal agencies as well as commodity groups. The Center also has partnerships with Native American communities and tribal colleges to address obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in high-need, under-served communities.
The 92,000-square-foot building contains state-of-the-art facilities for research with humans and animals, multiple chemical and biochemical laboratories. It has an annual appropriated budget of $9.3 million.