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Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard


Principal Investigator, Dr. Allan Walker, two Co-Principal Investigators, Drs. Steven Grinspoon and Walter Willett govern the NORC. An Executive Committee consisting of the Biomedical Research Core directors and two senior investigators on a rotational basis. The Administrator advises the senior leadership. The Center is also reviewed annually by a Scientific Advisory Committee.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Allan WalkerDr. Allan Walker is the Principal Investigator of the NORC. His responsibilities are to oversee the goals of the center and act as a liaison with the External Advisory Committee and the Center Administrator, Ms. Maureen Garron. He also coordinates interactions with Harvard Medical School and its teaching hospitals as well as other affiliated institutions, e.g., Department of Nutrition, HSPH and CRC, MIT, and MGH. He also interacts with Dr. Carolyn Miles, the Nutrition Coordinator at NIDDK and the Harvard members of the center. A brief biography of Dr. Walker’s nutrition research interests exists as well as a description of his role as Director of the DON.

Dr. Walker’s biographical sketch is availalble here.

Dr. Vernon YoungDr. Steven Grinspoon functions as a co-principal investigator of the center.  He directs the MGH Program in Nutritional Metabolism and is a senior clinical researcher at the MGH/Harvard Catalyst CTSA site. He is the principal investigator of the Harvard wide Training Grant in Nutrition and Metabolism, an important component of training in the Harvard Department of Nutrition. He oversees new initiatives within the center and helps administrate the pilot/feasibility program. 

Dr. Grinspoon’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Dr. Walter WillettDr. Walter Willett functions as a co-principal investigator of the center. As Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and as a Nutritional Epidemiologist, he coordinates interactions between the NORC and HSPH. He is the principal investigator of an NIH-funded institutional training grant and facilities nutrition training of MDs and PhDs postdoctoral fellows in obtaining an MPH or DSc in Nutritional Epidemiology and Biochemistry through his department. Dr. Willett helps to organize the annual nutrition research symposium sponsored by the NORC, the DON and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.

Dr. Willett’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Executive Committee of the NORC

The members of the NORC Executive Committee represent senior leadership at various locations within the center. They include:

Dr. Walter Willett (see above)

Dr. Fred Ausubel Dr. Fred Ausubel is Professor of Molecular Biology at Harvard Medical School and a Molecular Biologist in the Molecular Biology Service at MGH, as well as Director of the Genomics Core of the NORC. Dr. Ausubel is a member of the National Academy of Science and principal investigator in the role of nutrition and pathogenesis of bacterial infections.

Dr. Ausubel’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Dr. Tor SavidgeDr. David Newburg is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Glycobiology) at Harvard in the Mucosal Immunology Laboratory at MGH.  He is a nationally recognized authority in glycobiology and heads the Cell Biology Core.  His primary interest is in breast milk oligosaccharides and their role as protective nutrients in neonatal host defense. 

Dr. Newburg’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Dr. Steven Grinspoon (See above)

Dr. Richard GrandDr. Richard Grand is a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and Principal Investigator of the CRC at Children’s Hospital. This is a new program in the NORC established to allow clinical nutrition studies to be done at Children’s as part of an NIH mandate to study children. Dr. Grand is an authority on lactase gene expression.

Dr. Grand’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Dr. David Schoenfeld Dr. David Schoenfeld is a Professor of Statistics at HMS and HSPH and a Statistician at MGH. He oversees the Statistics Program as part of the Administrative Core of the center. Dr. Schoenfeld helps prospective P/F applicants and center investigators with study design and data analysis.

David A. Schoenfeld, Ph.D.
Director, Biostatistics Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
50 Staniford St.
Boston, MA 02114

(617) 726-6111
Fax (617) 724-9878

Dr. Schoenfeld’s biographical sketch is linked here.

Ms. Ewelinka 'Nika' Grzejka - received her Bachelors of Science degree in Health Management and Policy from The University of New Hampshire She is the administrator of the Pilot Feasibility Projects at the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard (NORC). Nika also serves as a staff assistant to Dr. Grinspoon and directs the administrative aspects of the Program in Nutritional Metabolism as well as the Harvard wide T32 grant in Nutrition and Metabolism.

External Advisory Committee

The External Advisory Committee consists of established investigators principally from outside the NORC-member institutions. The several members bring to this committee scientific excellence in a range of disciplines integral to the goals of this Center.

Dr. Dennis Bier (Chairman)
Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the USDA, Children’s Nutrition Research Ctr., Baylor School of Medicine, Houston, TX

Dr. Steven Zeisel
Professor of Pediatrics, Chairman, Department of Nutrition P.I., CNRU, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Ginann Stallings
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania Medical School; Director of Nutrition, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Curberto Garza
Professor and Chairman, Graduate Division of Nutrition, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Dr. Robert Russell
Professor of Medicine and Nutrition, Director of USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts New England Medical Center, Boston, MA

Dr. Nevin Scrimshaw
Institute, Professor, Emeritus, M.I.T. Emeritus Chairman, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. Center for Population Studies, Harvard Medical School


To derive the benefit of continuity in assessing the effectiveness of the Center from year to year while still allowing flexibility for new insights as the Center’s activities evolve, advisory committee members will serve four year terms; rotation of the current advisory committee will begin in the third year of this proposal, with the plan to have one to two members change annually. The functions of the External Advisory Committee are:

  • To monitor and evaluate ongoing research and propose new directions and objectives for the NORC.
  • To review the Pilot/Feasibility Project program for its effectiveness and the appropriateness of the distribution of these funds within the NORC.
  • To review the scientific activities of the NORC investigators.
  • To assess the function of the NORC as a Center (i.e., promoting new collaborations and interactions, developing new investigators and new scientific projects). *
  • To review the Centers budget and utilization of funds.
  • To serve as a resource for review of Pilot/Feasibility Project applications.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the Center in achieving the ultimate goal of promoting nutrition research.

The External Advisory Committee meets formally on an annual basis and prepare a summary report of their assessment of the Center with further recommendations. In addition, consultation with the Director is made on and ad hoc basis as needed either with individuals members of the committee or the entire committee as appropriate.

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Updated 1/25/2008