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What we do

The University of Auckland Human Nutrition Unit (HNU) carries out intervention studies in healthy volunteer subjects and many different patient groups in the areas of diet and health.

The Unit specialises in diet-controlled intervention trials and carries out both academic public good research and sponsored industrial partnerships.

Operating as an eight bed facility which can perform day, overnight and long-stay studies, as well as the base for large community outpatient trials, the services that the Unit can provide include:

  • Consultancy on nutrition regulatory issues, including health claims
  • Consultancy, design and development of trial protocols
  • Recruitment and screening of volunteer participants
  • Trial management and co-ordination
  • Data collection, analysis and interpretation
  • Publication of peer reviewed scientific articles

A range of expertise can be found at the Unit, both in academic and commercially funded areas of human nutrition research. Drawing on national and international expertise, the research team provides the skills and capabilities to carry out nutrition studies from early inception through to completion. The Unit provides a venue for commercial and investigator-led clinical studies across a range of nutrition specialties.

Research Areas
Areas of research interest include:

  • Obesity and Weight Control
  • Appetite and Regulation of Food Intake
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Cholesterol-lowering
  • Diabetes

Health benefits of food components including studies on:
Dietary lipids, including omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils)

  • Dietary proteins, including dairy proteins
  • Dietary carbohydrates, including soluble (ß-glucan) and insoluble dietary fibres
  • Dairy-derived food components

The facility comprises 8 investigation rooms equipped with beds and access to cannulation and blood pressure monitoring; a clinical office/interview room; sample handling laboratory (centrifuge; -20ºC/-80oC freezers); metabolic kitchen with cook providing controlled trial diets where required and meals/snacks for unrestricted patients; dining room; 2 day lounges with Sky TV; toilet and shower facilities.

Capabilities available within the Unit include:

  • Diet provision and control
  • Day, overnight or long-term (3-4week) residential studies
  • Metabolic kitchen
  • Anthropometry including assessment of body composition
  • Phlebotomy (including venous cannulation)
  • Adipose and muscle biopsy
  • Urine and faecal collection

Collaboration would allow provision of clamp and other more invasive techniques to be developed within the Unit.

Medical supervision is co-ordinated by Dr Anne-Thea McGill, MBChB, Research Physician.

Nursing cover for overnight stays can be externally contracted where required.

The Unit is in a quiet residential street in the central Auckland suburb of Mount Eden, with easy patient access and extensive free on street parking. It is a secure cardholder building.