Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard


Project Summary Rates of obesity and related metabolic disorders have increased substantially over the past 20 years. However, despite the significant work being done, translation of progress in this area into clinically useful advances has been inadequate. Recognizing this critical gap, the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard (NORC-H) has continued to evolve through a deliberative process of restructuring, to enable key goals of the Center and larger Nutrition Obesity Community. In this regard, the new Center Leadership, under Dr. Grinspoon, a well recognized expert in human metabolic phenotyping and ectopic adipose tissue, has worked closely with Dr. Allan Walker, the prior Director, in consultation with the EAB to restructure the Center to leverage the strengths of the investigative base, to achieve the goals below. The Center has been successful, as judged by its scientific achievements, with key metrics of success in terms of publications, and grant support. To harness strength of the Research community at Harvard to address extensive questions related to obesity, nutrition and metabolism, the Center has expanded core use to include metabolic phenotyping, translational model development, development of tissue specific cell types from stem cells, and functional imaging for adipose tissue, substrate flux, and higher cortical satiety and hunger pathways organized into 6 specific themes. This work leverages and simultaneously facilitates the work of the numerous faculty members actively engaged in nutrition and obesity research across the Harvard schools of medicine and public health and affiliated hospitals. The NORC-H has enjoyed great success in fostering cross-institutional and cross- disciplinary collaborations between researchers for 2 decades. The NORC-H will continue to develop its highly successful focus on enrichment and promotion of nutrition and obesity related science and utilize a high quality P&F Program to provide pilot funding to advance highly deserving scientists with significant potential. The goals of the Center are to identify and promote a highly productive research base centered around key thematic interests unique to the Center, with potential to translate research findings into clinically useful strategies for human advancement, to make sophisticated phenotyping and model development services available to clinical and translational researchers both within and beyond the Harvard community through novel core services, and to make the knowledge of these advancements available through a robust enrichment, education and outreach program, including via our annual symposium, P&F symposium, website and outreach to other NORCS to ensure that the community benefits maximally from the Center.

Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.