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Obesity/Nutrition Research Center


Core Services

STATISTICAL CONSULTATION.  Directed by Dr. Lisa Weissfeld of the Biostatistics Department, this statistical consultation service can assist you with issues related to data management, experimental design, power analysis, and statistical approaches for research related to the broad topic of obesity/nutrition.  Contact Dr. Weissfeld at (412) 624-3024 or for more information.  The ONRC maintains a Clinical Registry, which is a database of potential research volunteers.  Interested researchers can access the Clinical Registry by contacting Diane Casile at (412)  692-2249.

CLINICAL ASSESSMENT.  Measures of body composition can be performed on subjects in obesity-related research projects using DEXA (dual x-ray absorptiometry), bioelectrical impedance, or skinfold measures.   The core can also complete measures of metabolic rate at rest or during exercise.   Trained staff are available to complete fasting blood work, oral glucose tolerance tests, EKGs, and other clinical outcome measures.  Contact Dr. Bret Goodpastor at (412) 692-2437 or for more information.

BIOCHEMICAL ASSAYS.  The ONRC can assist by performing assays of insulin, glucose, lipids, lipoproteins, vitamins, fatty acids, and many other parameters related to obesity and nutrition.  : Contact Dr. Gary Marshall at (412) 692-2257 or for available immunoassays and cost performed in the Endocrinology Immunoassay Core Laboratory.

GENETICS ASSAYS. The Genetics Core is available to assist investigators who want to add a genetic component to their studies by providing information on appropriate genetic markers to assess.  For example, ONRC investigators studying energy balance may be interested in a newly developed assay relating to genetic variation in mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs).  UCPs are a family of proteins which uncouple proton transport in the mitochondria from ATP production.  Thus, energy is dissipated as heat rather than work.  There are at least three UCPs in humans.  UCP1 is found in a wide variety of tissues; UCP2 is found primarily in brown adipose tissue; and UCP3 primarily in muscle.   The Genetics Core has recently established assays for genetic variation in each of the UCPs.  For information regarding specific assays and costs for ONRC members, contact Dr. Robert Ferrell at (412) 624-3018 or  

BEHAVIORAL LABORATORY.  The Behavioral Laboratory and its trained staff can assist you with behavioral studies of physical activity or intake.  This laboratory can be used to examine whether psychological or physical stress, various medications, or disease processes influence eating behavior (type or quantity of food consumed) or physical activity.  It can also be used to study the way in which acute bouts of exercise or specific food consumption can influence physiological or metabolic parameters.  Contact Dr. Marsha Marcus at (412) 624-1513 or

ANALYSIS OF DIETARY RECORDS.   The ONRC also has trained staff who analyze dietary intake records using the Nutrition Data System database.  Help with other approaches to diet assessment (such as food frequency records) is also available.  Please contact Dr. Antoinette Angeles at (412) 383-1434 or for more information.

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