Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard

Nutrition-related disease states such as diabetes and obesity may be treatable eventually by the use of therapies at the cellular and molecular levels. The Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard seeks to establish a research environment which encourages the approach to defining common clinical nutrition research problems using the most sophisticated technology and scientific knowledge available.

Recent Work by NORCH Investigators

Childhood undernutrition and growth impairment remain substantial burdens in Sub-Saharan Africa. Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), a subclinical condition associated with inflammation and malabsorpition in the small intestine, is associated with growth failure. As several studies have demonstrated that individuals with low weight in early childhood are at risk for cardiometabolic disease later in life, NORCH Associate Director Dr. Christopher P. Duggan, NORCH member Dr. Wafaie Fawzi, and others recently investigated whether EED in infancy is associated with cardiovascular risk measures in mid-childhood. Anti-flagellin IgA is a marker for EED and is significantly higher in Tanzanian infants compared to infants in Boston. Drs. Duggan, Fawzie, et al. demonstrated that flagellin IgA at 6 weeks of age is associated with both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in mid-childhood

Recent Work by NORCH Investigators

With support from a NORCH Pilot and Feasibility Grant, Dr. Lauren Feichtner and others recently reported that gestational weight gain affects the composition and diversity of the infant gut microbiome. Using data and infant fecal samples from 84 infant-mother pairs, four distinct microbiota profiles were identified: Bifidobacterium-dominant, Enterobacter/Veillonella-dominant, Bacteroides-dominant, and Escherichia-dominant. Infants whose mothers had more weight gain during pregnancy were less likely to have a Bacteroides-dominant profile (risk ratio 0.83 [95% CI 0.71-0.96] per 1kg of gestational weight gain). Further, a larger amount of gestational weight gain predicted lower bacterial diversity.

Adipose Tissue-Derived miRNAs Regulate Gene Expression in Other Tissues

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate translation and thereby contribute to the regulation of metabolic processes. Dr. Kahn and others recently demonstrated in Nature that adipose tissue is an important source of circulating miRNAs. Mice with an adipose-tissue-specific knockout of the miRNA processing enzyme Dicer (ADicerKO) demonstrated substantial reductions in levels of circulating miRNAs, and fat transplant from wild type animals largely restored miRNA levels.


Save the Date: 2021 Symposium

The 22nd Annual Harvard Nutrition and Obesity Symposium, Global Food Systems and Sustainable Nutrition, will be held on June 15, 2021.  Sign up here to be notified when registration opens.


2020 Symposium Recordings Available

Thank you to our Faculty and Attendees at the 2020 Symposium, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD):  Mechanisms and Novel Therapeutics.  Recordings from the Symposium are available here.


NORC Initiative for Advancing Diversity

Please click here to view recordings from the 2020 NORC Initiative to Advance the Careers of Researchers from Groups Underrepresented in Academia (URiA), led by NORCH Diversity Director, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford.


Please cite the NORCH Grant

Our work as a center is measured in part by the contributions we make to published science.  Please cite the National Institutes of Health grant P30 DK040561 in all publications that have benefited from the use of NORCH services or resources.  Thank you!

Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard Medical School

Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, 5LON207, Boston, MA 02114 724-9109 | @HarvardNORC on Twitter