NORC - Centers

Harvard Medical School

DIRECTOR W. Allan Walker, MD - Harvard NORC Website
CO-DIRECTORS Steven Grinspoon, MD and Walter Willett, MD


The overall mission of the NORC at Harvard is to promote and enhance nutrition research within the greater Boston community. The research at this center is based on multiple themes:
  • Cancer Biology
  • Clinical and Epidemiologic Investigation
  • Immunology and Microbiology
  • Nutrient-Gene Interaction
  • Nutrition Metabolism
  • Obesity
The goals of the NORC at Harvard are to:
  • Promote research in basic areas relevant to clinical nutritional science.
  • Promote the study of clinical nutrition within the Harvard Medical School (HMS), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harvard teaching hospitals.
  • Promote interactions among scientists exploring diverse fields which share relevance to clinical nutrition.
  • Develop "state of the art" approaches to nutrition research.
  • Attract basic investigators to the study of nutrition.
  • Promote an environment and mechanism to develop new investigators focused on clinical nutrition research.


Biostatistics Core
Access to statistical consulation is a very important service for the Center.  We use the extensive biostatics program established by the Catalyst (Harvard CTSA) Award at Harvard to provide additional access for Investigators in the Center.  Each CTSU at Harvard (HSPH, BWH Hospital, Children's Hospital, BIDMC, and MGH) has an assigned Statistical Director who is available to provide 4 to 6 hours of statistical consulation and follow up without charge to funded Investigators within these institutions. Dr. David Schoenfeld, a CTSA Statistician at MGH, acts as a liasion to direct any request for consulation in biostatistics to the appropriate institutional biostatistician.
Molecular Biology and Genomics Core
The goals of the Molecular Biology and Genomics Core Facility are to:
  • Provide consultative services concerning the applications of molecular biology and genomics techniques to specific problems in nutrition research.
  • Train individual investigators in new genomic technologies including nanoString transcriptional Profiling.
  • Development of High-Throughput Cell-Based Assays using Automated Imaging and analysis
  • Provide tutorials and workshops
Cell Biology and Morpohology Core
The purpose of the Cell Biology Core has been and will continue to be to allow NORC-H investigators access to the specialized expertise and equipment in morphology, cell culture and immunology needed to efficiently advance their research interests in nutritional sciences and obesity.

The goals of this Core are:
  • To continue contributing to advances in specialized biological tools and to disseminate their use by nutrition researchers whose expertise may lie in other areas.
  • To coordinate the use of these tools and facilitate fruitful long term collaborations.
  • To provide expert consultation in research design.
  • To provide an environment appropriate for the training of junior faculty and key personnel from participating laboratories, by offering access to sophisticated equipment, specific training and supervision for utilizing specialized techniques and equipment, efficient acquisition of data, and data interpretation, and formal courses on basic concepts in molecular cell biology, and nutrition interaction with GI immunology. 
Mass Spectrometry and Metabolomics Core
This Core was founded as a collaboration between the MGH department of Molecular Biology, Center for Human Genetics Research, and Center for Computational Biology. Currently, the Core operates using Ilumina HiSeq and MiSeq instruments, which provides flexibility in the scale, cost, and turnaround time of sequencing runs. The Core is located in the state-of-the-art Simches Research Center as part of the MGH main campus.

Our services include quality control (QC) and quantitation of submitted DNA libraries, pooling multiple barcoded samples in one lane if multiplexing is required, and single-read or paired-end sequencing, followed by data QC and automatic generation of basic alignments and genomic coverage files. As a result, you will get FASTQ files with around 150 M reads per lane or more, BAM files with alignments, bigwig coverage files, and pdf files with various metrics of sequencing data quality. More details about services, prices, submission requirements etc can be found here.