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Organization and Goals

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s NORC (UNC NORC) is specifically designed to enhance the efficiency, productivity, effectiveness, and multidisciplinary nature of nutrition and obesity-related research both locally and worldwide. Since the Center’s inception in 1999, the UNC NORC has facilitated the development and transfer of cutting-edge research from the laboratory to the general public for a wide range of research studies.

The goals of the UNC NORC are to:

  • Provide resources and support to investigators conducting multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in nutritional sciences and obesity
  • Enhance the impact and presence of nutrition and obesity research at UNC
  • Strengthen clinical nutrition training programs for medical students, practicing physicians, and health personnel
  • Translate research findings to the general public to use to improve their overall health and well-being

The UNC NORC is organized around four interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems in nutrition/obesity research:

  • Basic Science and Fundamentals of Nutrition and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Chronic Diseases in Populations
  • Precision Nutrition: Metabolic Responses, Metabolic Variation, and Requirements for Nutrients
  • Understanding and Changing Diet- and Obesity-Related Behavior

Core Facilities

The center provides supports to nutrition and obesity investigators through a variety of research cores, labs and support programs:

Animal Metabolism Phenotyping Core

The Animal Metabolism Phenotyping Core offers support and expertise for measuring traits related to metabolism in mouse models of obesity and nutritionally relevant disease. The Core provides services that characterize activity, body composition, and metabolic rates in mice. The Core provides investigators with critical information on the selection of appropriate diets, including the use of rigorous controls, and access to the Collaborative Cross and Diversity Outbred “next generation” mouse resource for nutrition research. The Core provides expertise and services in two areas: 1) Assessment of Energy Expenditure and 2) Live-cell Metabolic Phenotyping. The Core provides access to instrumentation for studying components of murine energy balance. In addition, the Core offers the scientific and technical support for real-time, live-cell metabolic phenotyping of differing cell types with Seahorse technology. This Core provides services at both the Chapel Hill and the Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) campuses to facilitate efficiency of work at each location for NORC members and external users

Clinical and Community Human Assessment and Interventions Core

The Clinical and Community Human Assessment and Interventions Core is a one-stop shop for investigators looking to add value to their behavioral science research studies in the areas of technology, user inquiry, and graphic design aimed at health promotion and disease prevention. The Core’s behavioral assessment services offer methodological resources and expertise to promote the science of diet and physical activity in the human population. The Core’s behavioral assessment expertise ensures that investigators use the latest methods for diet and physical activity assessment in their research studies, and allows them to utilize the infrastructure (personnel, software and equipment) that exists within the Core rather than create their own duplicate capacity. The Core also provides support and expertise for clinical and translational research in nutrition and obesity. The Core’s clinical assessment services offer a variety of nutrition research assistance to complement clinical studies, including metabolic assessment services, whole room calorimeter, body composition, clinical support, and meal preparation in a metabolic kitchen.

Metabolism and Metabolomics Core

The Metabolism and Metabolomics Core provides design assistance, data interpretation, and targeted and untargeted analysis of biospecimens in studies of nutrition and obesity. Using state-of-the-art metabolomics and exposome technologies, the Core assists nutrition/obesity investigators in determining how molecules that are present in cells, tissues, and biological fluids are associated with weight status, nutrient status, and states of health and wellness. The Core provides expertise and services in two areas: 1) Targeted and Broad Spectrum Analysis and 2) Untargeted Analysis via Mass Spectrometry. The Core provides services at both the Chapel Hill and NRI campuses to make a wide array of instrumentation available to NORC members as well as to external users at each site.

Precision Nutrition Core

The Precision Nutrition Core is an all-encompassing support system for investigators conducting research on nutrigenetic and microbiome aspects of obesity and obesity-related diseases. The Core provides scientific and technical expertise to analyze the host genetic and gut microbiome factors – and their interactions – that affect an individual’s needs and responses to nutrients and their susceptibility to obesity-related comorbidities. The Core provides expertise and services in two areas: 1) Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics and 2) Microbiome Analysis. This Core is located at both the Chapel Hill and NRI campuses to serve investigators throughout UNC as well as external users.


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Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD

Dean, The Graduate School
Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Medicine

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Raz Shaikh, PhD

Professor of Nutrition
Associate Chair for Research

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Administrative Offices

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
135 Dauer Drive
261 Rosenau Hall
CB # 7461
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 • Phone: (919) 962-0948