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Human Energy and Body Weight Regulation Core

Kong Y. Chen, Ph.D., Director

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The Human Energy and Body Weight Regulation Core provides metabolic testing for the Metabolic Clinical Research Unit (MCRU) and throughout the NIH Clinical Center.

The Core collaborates with investigators from across the NIDDK, clinical research programs at the NIH, and other institutions by performing metabolic and physiological phenotyping measurements in healthy volunteers as they relate to obesity, physical activity, and energy metabolism, and in patients with metabolic disorders as they relate to specific metabolic dysregulations.

The Core supports the collection of highly sensitive, continuous measurements of whole-body energy metabolism. We use standard bedside indirect calorimetry measurements of resting energy expenditure and whole-room indirect calorimeters (metabolic chambers) over a 24-hour period. We measure sleep, post-prandial, resting, exercise, recovery, and spontaneous movement periods; substrate oxidation rates over 24 hours; physical activity during free living; heart rate and heart-rate variability; and skin and core body temperatures.

The Core also provides standardized measurements of cardio-respiratory fitness (maximum and submaximum tests performed using upright, recumbent, and treadmill) and body composition (collected using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), air-displacement plethysmography (BodPod), bioelectrical impedance, and anthropometry). In addition, staff members advise and consult with clinical research teams to optimize measurement selection and protocol design. Finally, Core members coordinate and provide measurement services, perform routine equipment calibrations and maintenance, and manage related data.