U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agricultural Research Magazine 60(3): March 2012 pp. 4-7; ISSN 0002-161X


Nestled in the Maryland suburbs outside northeast Washington, D.C., is arguably the world’s largest and most diversified agricultural research complex—the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). Among its 7,000 acres of fields, farmland, and science buildings is the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC)—the oldest and most comprehensive of six human nutrition research centers within the Agricultural Research Service. Two new buildings— totaling more than 100,000 square feet of research space—were added to BHNRC in 2003.

“The first human nutrition research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture dates back to the late 1890s,” says Allison Yates, the nutrition center’s former director, “and USDA nutrition research first moved to the Beltsville area in 1941.” Yates is now BARC’s associate director. Nutrition center researchers oversee the national food and nutrient databases and national dietary-intake survey. These products are the tools used by scientists to examine the influence of dietary interventions on human health. Besides nutrition monitoring, the nutrition center’s research program also includes investigating the role of food nutrients at the cellular level as well as in animal models and in human studies.