NORC Facility

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Overview of Services

The Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Obesity Research Center was established to promote and support research related to Nutrition and Obesity at University of Maryland Baltimore and The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The Mid-Atlantic NORC is led by Drs. Simeon Taylor (Director) and Braxton Mitchell (Associate Director), who are Co-Principal Investigators on the NIH grant that supports the NORC (P30DK072488). To achieve its mission, the Mid-Atlantic NORC has established biomedical research cores, which provides services to Nutrition and Obesity Researchers at the parent institutions:

  • Biological Mechanisms and Functional Genomics (BMFG) Core (Simeon Taylor, MD, PhD, Director; Carole Sztalryd, PhD, Director of the Biological Mechanisms Sub-Core; Norann Zaghloul, PhD, Director of the Functional Genomics Sub-Core). The Core’s principal offers services related to cell biology, biochemistry, and in vivo animal models. Under Dr. Sztalryd’s supervision, the Biological Mechanisms Core provides specialized services related to both human and rodent adipose tissue. Under Dr. Zaghloul’s supervision, the Functional Genomics Sub-Core provides specialized services using zebrafish animal models of disease.
  • Biostatistics and Medical Informatics (BMI) Sub-Core (John Sorkin, MD, PhD, Director). Under Dr. Sorkin’s supervision, the BMI Sub-Core provides services related to biostatistics and database management.
  • Clinical Translational Research (CTR) Core (Alice Ryan, PhD, Director; Elizabeth Streeten, MD, Director of the Amish Research Clinic (ARC) Sub-Core; Dr. Lawrence Appel, MD, Director of JHMI/Pro-Health-based clinical research Sub-Core). Under Dr. Ryan’s supervision, the CTR Core provides specialized services related to nutrition, physical exercise, and clinical chemistry. Under Dr. Streeten’s supervision, the ARC Sub-Core conducts clinical research in the Old Order Amish population of Lancaster, PA. Under the Dr. Appel’s supervision, Pro-Health conducts clinical research related to nutrition and metabolic disease.
  • Community Obesity Measures of Movement, Anthropometry, Nutrition& Diet (COMMAND) (Erin Hager, PhD, Director).  Under Dr. Hager’s supervision, the Field-Based Anthropometric, Dietary, and Physical Activity Assessment Sub-Core provides support for investigators who incorporate anthropometric, dietary/feeding, and physical activity measures into community research protocols.
  • Molecular Genetics and Nutrigenomics (MGN) Core (Braxton Mitchell, PhD, Director; Timothy O’Connor, PhD, Co-Director). Under Dr. Mitchell’s supervision, the MGN Core provides services related to molecular genetics, genetic epidemiology, and functional genomics. Under Dr. O’Connor’s supervision, the MGN Core provides services related to DNA and RNA sequencing.

The Cores provide customized research services as well as consultations and collaborations. Accordingly, this Service Center does not provide a specific price list for routine services. Rather, potential users are invited to provide brief descriptions of their projects as well as their research needs. The appropriate NORC scientist will follow up with the requester in order to agree upon a plan to provide the needed services. The NORC’s prices are intended to cover the cost of providing the services. In selected cases where the requester does not have funding, the NORC may be able to identify sources of funding to cover part or all of the costs.


Amish Research Clinic (ARC) Core:
Conducts clinical research in the Old Order Amish population of Lancaster.

  • Patient recruitment
  • Questionaire development
  • Basic patient exams (anthropometry, blood pressure, blood draw, consent)
  • Dexa Scan (hip, knee, whole body) 
  • Ultrasound (carotid artery, echo, abdominal aortic aneurysms)
  • Assays: Glucose, Lipids, TSH, HbA1c, Cmp, CBCD, Insulin
  • Other: EKG, OGTT, FSIVGT, Fat biopsy, Metabolic cart, Lipooprotein turnover, Blood draw for iPS cells, Genetic counseling, Stool collection


Biological Mechanisms and Functional Genomics Core:
Provides services to assist investigators in understanding biological, cellular and molecular mechanisms to address nutrition and obesity related problems.


  • Consultation and Training: Consultation in design of experimental approaches and training in specialized methods of adipose biology.
  • Tissue/Cell Characterization and Repository: Access to fresh and frozen human samples from multiple tissue types, including fat tissue and skeletal muscle. 
  • Analytical and Biological Assays: Assays: acute secretion, lipolysis, glycerol assay, fat cell size, LPL, HSL, protein, triglyceride, and cholesterol, NEFA, cellular lipids, TLC, in vitro radioisotopes tracer studies (lipogenesis, triglyceride synthesis, lipolysis). 
  • Functional Genetic and Protein Assessment In Vivo and In Vitro 
  • Gene and protein expression: Plasmid isolation, DNA &RNA isolation, cDNA and RT-PCR, Luminex and gene chip, molecular cloning, bacterial expression, assay 
  • Imaging: Confocal use (time-lapse, FRET, FRAP), histocytochemistry 
  • Adenovirus: Molecular cloning, viral vector construct, virus generation, amplification and purification 
  • Zebrafish Models : Transient gene knockdown and embryonic/larval phenotyping, in vivo variant functional testing, genomic gene knockout (CRISPR), whole mount gene expression analysis, tissue specific gene expression analysis, protein expression analysis, whole mount lipid analysis (oil red o), total cholesterol and LDL-c quantification, vascular lipid accumulation analysis, tissue-specific phenotyping using transgenic lines (pancreatic beta-cells, exocrine pancreas, liver, neuronal tissues), dietary manipulation (high fat diet, high cholesterol diet), food intake quantification, dietary lipid metabolism assays 


Community Obesity Measures of Movement, Anthropometry, Nutrition & Diet
To provide measurement support for investigators who incorporate anthropometric, dietary/feeding, and physical activity measures into community research protocols.

    1. Anthropometric Measures
      1. Scale loaning program
        • Stadiometer
        • BIA scale
        • Standard scale

    2. Dietary/Feeding Measures

      1. Data collection tools loaning program
        • Tablets

    3. Physical Activity Measures

      1. Accelerometer loaning program
        • Actical Accelerometer
        • Reader

    4. Training and Technical Assistance

        • Data collection training
        • Data cleaning/management training 
        • TA as needed


Molecular Genetics and Nutrigenomics (MGN) Core:
Providing resources and support for molecular genetics, genetic epidemiology, and functional genomics.
  • Single SNP and array genotyping
  • DNA/RNA targeted sequencing
  • Data processing and analysis support for small or large scale genotype cleaning and genetic association analysis
  • Bioinformatics support for pathway analysis, methylomics and transcriptomics analysis
  • Consultation for study design and power calculations for genetic and family studies, including power calculation/sample size
  • Access to Amish sample repository and genetic results including serum and DNA samples, and genetic association results from our Amish Variant Server for approved users






Name Role Phone Email Location
Simeon Taylor, PhD
Core Director

Ugur Erickson
Program Specialist


In House Services Price List

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Physical Activity Measures (2)