Nutrition Support


Benefits for Investigators and Collaboration


We work with investigators and collaborators to provide the nutrition services they need, including dietary analysis of food records, 24-hour recalls, and food frequency questionnaires (FFQs); as well as creating and preparing study-specific meals in our dedicated metabolic kitchen. The dietitian is also available for nutrition consult services, such as assessments, interventions, and follow-ups; and will work with the investigator to tailor services per study needs. 

This modern state-of-the-art metabolic research kitchen is available for the research conducted on the Metabolic Research Unit, including the preparation of food for inpatients, outpatients, and pack-out meals. The specialized kitchen ensures precise conditions during food preparation so that research can later determine the nutrients consumed by research volunteers.

The MRU kitchen provides nutrition support for all MRU study protocols which includes the following: 

Kitchen and Dietetic Support

MRU kitchen staff, which includes a research dietitian and a research diet technician, provide controlled dietary regimens that can provide specific foods/nutrients or eliminates specific foods/nutrients depending on study requirements for resident and non-resident research studies 

The dietitian meets with the PI and /or coordinator prior to scheduling subjects to determine the scope and meal needs of a study. The research dietitian can calculate and develop weighed and controlled research meals within the parameters of the study for both inpatient and outpatient study participants and meal pack-out studies. A diet technician prepares and weighs meals for eating in-house or as pack-outs.

  • The MRU kitchen can prepare multiple day pack-outs that can be sent out by courier. The study coordinator schedules the deliveries with the courier and the MRU kitchen staff. Packout meals are charged based on supplies, labor and amount and type of meals and snacks. 
  • Inpatient and outpatient in house regular meals are provided to research participants, and parent or guardian. 
  • The MRU has a dining room used for participant and parent/guardian meals. 
  • The MRU kitchen and dining room support the Eating Laboratory for additional nutrition research on a case-by-case basis with specific permission.

Dietary Analysis 

The research dietitian conducts food record and FFQ analysis, and 24-hour recalls using the Nutrition Data Analysis for Research (NDSR) from the University of Minnesota. NDSR is also used for recipe/menu development and weighed meal calculations for study-specific meals. NDSR is the standard nutrition software used in nutrition research, provides a variety of nutrition analysis reports, and has an extensive research-quality nutrient list.

Nutrition Consult Services

The dietitian is available for nutrition assessments, interventions, and follow-ups. The dietitian can conduct nutrition assessments for the pediatric or adult population and can collect any nutrition information specific to each study. We can also conduct 24-hour recall or FFQ interviews as needed. Nutrition interventions are tailored for each study depending on the study needs. These can include one-on-one nutrition consults, implementation of study-specific diet, group programs, or any specific nutrition intervention protocol that is presented to us by the investigator.

While this is not an exhaustive list of our nutrition services, if your specific nutrition needs are not listed, please reach out to us to discuss what you need and how we can best support your research.

Access Questions

For scientific inquiries on the use of core services and grant applications, contact the MRU director Dr. Fida Bacha, M.D., or administrative assistant Lizzet Vasquez; phone (713) 798-7083.

Projects requesting the use of the MRU or EMU services must be routed through the CNRC administrative office for cost estimates. Contact Regina Davis.