New ISU Nutrition and Wellness Research Center Open House planned for Nov. 9

AMES, Iowa -- Nutrition and wellness affects everyone's health. And on Friday, Nov. 9, everyone is welcome to visit Iowa State University's new Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (NWRC) -- located in Building 6 of ISU's Research Park on North Loop Drive, just off of Highway 30 -- for an open house from 3-7 p.m.

Starting at 5 p.m., prominent speakers will discuss the importance of nutrition and wellness. They include Iowa's Lt. Gov. Patty Judge; ISU President Gregory Geoffroy; Cheryl Achterberg, dean, Iowa State College of Human Sciences; Mike Tramontina, director, Iowa Department of Economic Development; Zoraida DeFreitas, vice president of research and development, Kemin Health; Michael Budnik, executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development, Proliant Health and Biologicals; and Diane Birt, ISU distinguished professor of food science and human nutrition and interim director of the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center.

Throughout the open house, center faculty will provide tours of the metabolic kitchen, dining areas, conference rooms, laboratories, and exercise assessment facilities. There will also be student demonstrations of exercise techniques and healthy eating strategies, and displays related to health and wellness research.

Officials hope to stimulate interest in developing partnerships with area business and industry for future research initiatives at the center through the open house.

"We want to let the community know about this facility and make them aware that we're not another fitness center," said Birt, a member of the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science. "This is a center designed to foster consumer and clinical research related to nutrition and wellness. We welcome proposals for partnerships from area business and industry."

Administered jointly by the College of Human Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Iowa State University, the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center was created to enhance human health and promote the development of food-related industries in Iowa. It is designed to "link" food research to the health of consumers and help move food-related innovations in plant, animal, microbial and food sciences to commercialization. As the NWRC develops, organizers plan to also study factors such as physical activity, which interacts with nutrition to determine wellness.

It is the state's first facility focused on testing foods and food-products for their impact on human wellness and prevention of chronic diseases.

"We do studies in healthy people and look at indicators in them that may correlate to them remaining healthy," Birt said. "We don't study people who have diseases in this center."

The facility will enhance existing research being conducted on campus, specifically from the Center for Crops Utilization Research, Center for Designing Food for Nutrition, and the Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements. Officials are also working with statewide partners that include the other Regent's institutions, established corporations such as Kemin and Proliant, start-up businesses, hospitals and clinics, and commodity sponsors.

"We also hope to collaborate with Iowa State's planned New Century Farm in the areas of functional foods and nutriceuticals," said Birt.

A grant of $700,000 from the Iowa Department of Economic Development through the Biosciences Alliance initiated development of the NWRC. Officials plan to make it self-sustaining by bringing in funds from grants, indirect cost recovery on grants, and fee-for-service activities.

Current research being conducted through the center includes ISU investigators Carola Grebitus, Helen Jensen, Jutta Roosen and Joseph Sebranek studying consumer willingness to pay for ground beef when it has different shelf life and colors. Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition Suzanne Hendrich is also working with an Iowa-based company to develop new markets for a new dietary fiber.

Additional information on the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center is available through its Web site at