Director: Alan R. Shuldiner, M.D.
The Mid-Atlantic NORC provides infrastructure and resources to expand the scope of our collaborative research efforts and to expedite new discoveries in nutrition-related research. A major goal is to provide a research needed establish nutritional guidelines that minimize chronic disease risk and address health disparities in our population.
Our NORC brings together resources and expertise in genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics, functional genomics, basic adipose cell biology and clinical investigation that can address basic mechanisms that determine individual responses to energy imbalance and to specific nutrients. Furthermore, our members possess expertise in applied physiology and clinical interventions to carry out translational research that extend basic research findings.
NORC members focus their work on the influence of nutrition and exercise on risk for age-related chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), sleep disordered breathing, and osteoporosis. To identify and evaluate the important genes that predict biological responses to diet (nutrigenomics) and exercise, our multidisciplinary research team utilizes the full spectrum of human genetics research from recruitment and phenotyping to high throughput molecular genetics to state-of-the-art statistical genetic analyses.
Our research base currently includes 44 investigators working on nutrition-related research at three institutions University of Maryland at Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center), with multidisciplinary expertise and a strong track record of collaboration and NIH funding.
The goals of the Mid-Atlantic NORC are:
- To foster inter- and multidisciplinary efforts to identify genes and nutrient-gene interactions that influence nutrient metabolism and the risk of chronic diseases during aging (particularly type 2 diabetes, CVD and osteoporosis).
- To understand the mechanisms by which weight loss through caloric restriction and exercise improve risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (e.g. hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance).
- To test the effectiveness of lifestyle intervention strategies (diet and/or exercise) to:
- prevent and treat obesity and its co-morbidities in at risk groups (middle aged/older individuals, urban minorities and youth)
- prevent and treat sarcopenia and osteopenia associated with deconditioning and suboptimal nutrition in the elderly, as well as improving rehabilitation after hip fracture
- To establish 3 core laboratories (1- Clinical Research, 2-Genetics, Genomics and Genetic Epidemiology, 3-Adipose Biology and Basic Mechanisms) to provide state-of-the-art and cost-effective services to expand and enhance nutrition and obesity research in Maryland.
- To attract young investigators from different fields of biomedicine to apply innovative methods that address important questions in the field of nutrition through the Pilot and Feasibility grant mechanism.
- To increase awareness of researchers and practicing health professionals in Maryland about the important role of nutrition in human health by:
- administering the newly-created Baltimore Distinguished Lecture Series in Nutrition that will promote academic and research collaborations, and
- enriching and promoting nutrition education for medical, graduate, and allied health professional students, housestaff, and primary care physicians.