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Nutrition Research

The Nutrition Research Group of the CRC supports a wide variety of research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, including, but not limited to, work in the areas of autism, weight control, diabetes, pregnancy, neurological disorders, and hypertension. Our team of nutrition experts is multifaceted in its role of facilitating and implementing the nutrition components of protocols and specializes in a diverse array of services to produce quality nutrition research. These services include dietary assessment, nutrition intervention, data analysis and interpretation, as well as grant and manuscript development and providing assistance to investigators in planning, developing, implementing, analyzing and evaluating the nutrition aspects of their clinical research protocols in order to produce quality grant applications and publications.

Key Personnel

Faculty and Staff Expertise: The Nutrition Research Group is directed by a nutrition research dietitian who has been with the Group for seven years and is staffed by a nutrition research coordinator with 30 years of research experience.

Nutrition Research Manager

Nellie Wixom, R.D.

Nellie Wixom is a registered dietitian and a faculty member in the School of Nursing at University of Rochester Medical Center where she teaches nutrition to nursing students. She has been with the University for over 20 years and has been with the Nutrition Research Group for seven years. In her role, Nellie develops research diets and works with investigators to develop, implement, and conduct nutrition interventions, as well as assisting them to identify and implement appropriate tools for nutrition assessment and analysis. Previously Nellie was Program Director for the University of Rochester’s Nutrition Weight Management Center. During her 12-year tenure she was involved in weight management research studies and developed an expertise in school and worksite wellness.
Phone: (585) 275-3918

Nutrition Research Coordinator

Robin Peck

Robin Peck joined the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1981 as a dietetic technician in Food and Nutrition Services and joined the CRC staff in 1985. Robin is responsible for the daily operations of the Nutrition Research Group and works closely with the nursing staff to coordinate the care of our research participants. She provides a wide variety of services including diet preparation, diet calculations, diet analysis, data collection, data input, database management and protocol specific nutrition education. Robin also performs anthropometric measurements, such as bio-impedance analysis (BIA), and administers a variety of questionnaires to ensure accuracy.
Phone: (585) 275-3918

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Services Provided

Specialized Nutrition Services

  • Consultation Services Regarding:
    • Protocol design
    • Budgets
    • Data analysis and interpretation
    • Grant and manuscript preparation
  • Nutrition Interventions:
    • Study-specific development and implementation of nutrition interventions for individuals or groups, including staff support
    • Development of manual of operations for nutrition interventions
    • Curriculum/educational material development
    • Nutrition/lifestyle counseling for individuals or groups based on dietary assessments
    • Identification and review of selected nutrition tools for interventions
  • Nutrient Analysis/Assessment of Food Intake:
    • Dietary data collection using 24-hour recalls, 3-day food records, and food frequency questionnaires
    • Data input and nutrient analysis export using NDS-R (Nutrition Data System for Research), a comprehensive nutrition research software

Meal Services

Our metabolic kitchen enables us to design, produce, and deliver diets for controlled feeding studies. We can provide the following services:

  • Controlled nutrient/constant diet
  • Estimated diet
  • Formula diet
  • Metabolic balance diet
  • Weighed diets

Facilities and Equipment:

  • Fully equipped research kitchen and food storage area
  • Private rooms for individual nutrition counseling sessions
  • Staff offices and computers for dietary analysis using University of Minnesota Nutrition Data System for Research software analysis program

Body Composition:

  • Skinfold Measurements
  • BIA
  • DXA Scan

Training: The CRC serves as a nutrition training site for medical, nursing and nutrition students, as well as dietetic interns, fellows and other allied healthcare professionals.

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Diet Assessment Tools

Food Record

A food record is a detailed description of the types and amounts of food, beverages, and/or supplements documented over a prescribed period, usually three to seven days. Food records are also known as "Food Diaries" because of the specially designed booklets that subjects use to enter the details of the food and beverages that they consume. Information on food preparation, recipes, brand names, and amounts consumed, including specific portion sizes is included. In addition, the name of the meal, the time of day, and exact location may be required depending upon the nature of the study.

Subjects may be asked to weigh and measure foods and should be trained to record intake to the level of detail needed to describe the diet and nutrients in question. At the end of the recording period, a nutrition-trained interviewer meets with the respondent to clarify food details and to review the foods and portions documented.

Dietary Recall

The 24-hour dietary recall is the most widely used diet assessment method. As the name implies, the subject is asked to report all of the food, beverages, and/or supplements that he/she has consumed for the past 24 hours or the previous day. Usually, the recall is conducted by personal interview and can be completed by using a computer or by recording the intake on paper. The interview may be face-to-face or occur via telephone. The interviewers must be very well trained in nutrition as they are crucial in collecting accurate information through the use of probing questions. The ideal interviewer is a registered dietitian. Interviewers should be very knowledgeable about foods available in the marketplace, how foods are prepared, and know about regional or ethnic food habits.

The interview is very structured with specific probes to help the respondent remember all the foods that have been eaten. Probing is useful when collecting details on how foods were prepared. It is also useful in recovering foods that are forgotten (e.g., butter on toast) or in retrieving eating occasions not originally reported by the subject such as snacks or coffee breaks.

Food Frequency Questionnaire

A Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) is a limited checklist of foods and beverages with a frequency response section for subjects to report how often each item was consumed over a specified period of time. Semi-quantitative FFQ collect portion size information as standardized portions or as a choice of portion sizes. Portion size information is not collected in non-quantitative FFQs. Calculations for nutrient intake can be estimated via computerized software programs that multiply the reported frequency of each food by the amount of nutrient in a serving of that food.

FFQs ask respondents to report their usual frequency of consumption of each food from a list of foods for a specific time period. Compared with other approaches, such as 24-hour dietary recalls and food records, the FFQ generally collects less detail regarding the foods consumed, cooking methods, and portion size. Therefore, the quantification of intake is not considered as accurate. However, unlike records or recalls, FFQs are designed to capture usual dietary intake. FFQs require validation prior to or as part of dietary research. The FFQ is usually the method of choice in large-scale epidemiologic studies.

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Useful Links

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
"With nearly 70,000 members, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The organization serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health, and well-being."

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
"The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the most highly rated peer-reviewed journal in ISI's nutrition and dietetics category and publishes the latest worldwide basic and clinical studies relevant to human nutrition in topics such as obesity, vitamins and minerals, nutrition and disease, and energy metabolism."

Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center
"The Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) is the largest of USDA's human nutrition research facilities and the home of the first human nutrition research conducted by USDA, dating back to the late 1890s. Its current program spans the human nutrition and health continuum, from investigating the role of nutrients and food components at the cellular level, to examining the impact of dietary interventions on health in animal and human research, to conducting mission critical surveys to find out what people are eating while supporting an expanded understanding of what's in food."

Food & Nutrition Information Center
"FNIC's website provides a directory to credible, accurate, and practical resources for consumers, nutrition and health professionals, educators and government personnel. Visitors can find printable format educational materials, government reports, research papers and more."

National Cancer Institute - Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods
"This program's mission is to contribute to reducing cancer in the U.S. population by serving as a critical link between etiologic research on cancer risk factors and the translation of such research into targeted and effective interventions for prevention."

National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
"NHANES is designed to collect information about the health and diet of people in the United States. These data are used to fulfill specific goals."

Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center
"Our research focuses on determining the nutrient requirements necessary to promote well-being for older adults. HNRCA scientists examine how nutrition plays a major role in the prevention of the major chronic degenerative conditions associated with aging."

USDA Choose MY
"Offers nutrition education, online tools, resources, and tip sheets for consumers and health professionals."

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