New CSU clinical research lab helps students conduct nutritional studies

Emma Iannacone

Video by Emma Iannacone

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A newly renovated clinical research lab is offering new opportunities for food science and human nutrition students.

The Office of the Vice President for Research funded the Food and Nutrition Clinical Research Laboratory in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for University Operations and Facilities Management.

The lab, located on the second floor of the Gifford building, will facilitate research on the role and efficacy of bioactive food components, such as antioxidants and how those increase or decrease the risk of chronic diseases, said Sarah Johnson, the director of the Functional Foods & Human Health Laboratory.

Some current studies being conducted at the lab include how a high-fat diet can increase the risk of chronic diseases and how bioactive food components can reduce risk of chronic diseases, according to Johnson.

By renovating the laboratory, Johnson said, undergraduate and graduate students in the department will be more involved in clinical research studies.

“The purpose of this program is to catalyze new research, to improve existing infrastructure, to not only enhance our current capabilities but to enhance and catalyze future research capabilities,” Johnson said.

Students like Kiri Michell, a senior food science and human nutrition major, are excited about the opportunities the new lab will offer. 

“We have some new technology that we’re able to use, and the space is just really nice and laid out and easy for us to navigate,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she will be using the lab to study how blueberries affect cardiovascular health in post-menopausal women.

“I think it will really help with all of our human research as well as our clinical studies,” Mitchell said.

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The purpose of this program is to catalyze new research, to improve existing infrastructure, to not only enhance our current capabilities but to enhance and catalyze future research capabilities.” Sarah Johnson, Director of the Functional Foods and Human Health Laboratory.

Johnson said having the clinical research lab in the Gifford building will be advantageous for the department because they can better collaborate with the existing labs, like the sensory analysis laboratory. 

“We have that qualitative component but we also have quantitative data that we’re collecting all the way from the cellular level … to the organ systems level,” Johnson said.

Food science and human nutrition graduate student Allegra Vazquez said she is excited about the location of the new lab. 

“It’s around the corner from our study lab that we currently work in, so it’s a lot more easy to access and a lot more machines and techniques that we get to use than we would having to go to a different lab and having to spend more time in transit,” Vazquez said.

This lab is different from the department’s existing 13 labs because there’s more opportunity for student-faculty collaboration, Vazquez said. 

“There’s a lot more interaction between the faculty, which is really nice,” Vazquez said. “We get to learn from masters students that we’ve never met before, so that’s something different.”

Emma Iannacone can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EmmaIannacone.