Nancy Bell is pretty sure she’s good at prioritizing and organizing. Still, Bell, chief administrative officer for UAB’s Clinical Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) and a UAB employee since 1986, fell asleep in her office many nights earlier this summer, preparing the unit’s grant proposal for the NIH.

David Allison and Nancy Bell stand in front of a poster that epitomizes the attitude of the employees in the Clinical Nutrition Research Center. The department recently had its core grant renewed by the NIH, enabling the CNRC to provide seed money needed by researchers to explore areas outside of their normal research. 

“It was brutal,” Bell says of the long nights. “But it paid off nicely for us in the end.”

The NIH renewed the center’s core grant, which underwrites the CNRC’s research on nutrition and obesity.

The purpose of the center is to foster a multidisciplinary approach to basic, clinical and translational research examining the metabolic, environmental and genetic factors underlying nutrition and obesity-related disorders, the consequences of these disorders and better methods for treatment and prevention.

The CNRC, funded by the NIH and UAB’s intramural, university wide interdisciplinary research center program, has more than 100 appointed faculty representing more than eight schools at UAB, says Director David Allison, Ph.D.

“We’ve got a terrific crew of people here at UAB who are attacking nutrition issues from many different angles,” Allison says. “The core grant is a catalyst for us; it’s a way of bringing people together, continuing research and getting new research started.”

CNRC research
The CNRC is one of only eight such centers in the nation. It is made up of four research core facilities, a pilot and feasibility studies program and an enrichment program. The core facilities support studies and/or research in metabolics, gene expression, polymorphism detection, energy expenditure and body composition, and design and data analysis and methodologic research in optimal design of clinical trials for obesity.

The pilot and feasibility studies program supports up to five studies and a named new investigator each year.

The enrichment program coordinates the CNRC Seminar Series, an annual symposium, and the center’s Web site .