About NCC

Who We Are

Mission

The Nutrition Coordinating Center’s mission is to support nutrition research and health promotion by providing state-of-the-art software and databases for nutrition assessment.

Primary Activities

NCC developed and supports Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR), a dietary analysis software application widely used for the collection and analyses of 24-hour dietary recalls and the analysis of food records, menus, and recipes. Researchers at hundreds of institutions rely on NDSR (Client List) for an array of nutrition-related studies (Publications).

The NCC Food and Nutrient Database was developed and is maintained by NCC. The Database is well known for its comprehensiveness with respect to the number of foods in it and the nutrients for which composition information is available. Other unique aspects of it include high levels of completeness of nutrient values and ongoing additions and updates to foods and nutrients in it.

An array of services is available through NCC to support the needs of researchers. The NCC User Support group provides telephone and email support for every aspect of NDSR and all NDSR license options.  A comprehensive training and certification program for instructing researchers and their staff on use of NDSR is available. NCC also offers 24-hour dietary recall collection and food record analysis services. Many prominent studies have relied on NCC services (Study List).

Organization and Support

NCC is located in the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Financial support for Center activities comes from a variety of sources including licensing and support fees for NDSR and the NCC Food and Nutrient Database, charges for services provided, and grant awards.

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Meet the NCC Team

Lisa Harnack, DrPH, RD

NCC Director and Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health

Dr. Harnack joined NCC as Assistant Director in 1997 and became Director in 2007. In her leadership role at NCC, she has led numerous improvements to NDSR, such as the addition of a dietary supplement assessment module (work funded by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements), the addition of a menu planner feature for use in designing menus for feeding studies (in response to the needs of metabolic kitchens at CTSIs), and the creation of Healthy Eating Index reports and output files (in response to requests from NDSR users).  Dr. Harnack has also overseen the addition of over 70 additional nutrients and other food components to the NCC Food and Nutrient Database, with the aim of ensuring the nutrients available in the database meet emerging and ongoing research and public health nutrition needs.

612.626.9398
harna001@umn.edu

Abigail Johnson, PhD, RD

NCC Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health

Dr. Johnson joined the Nutrition Coordinating Center as Associate Director in 2020. She is a nutrition scientist and registered dietitian with specific expertise in dietary data analysis and microbiome studies. Dr. Johnson is broadly interested in dietary assessment and innovative dietary assessment technologies. She has led dietary intervention studies and has worked with nutritional and dietary data from cross-sectional studies and large citizen science projects.

612.624.8210
abbyj@umn.edu

Kerrin Brelje, MPH, RD

NCC Operations Director

After completing her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition, Kerrin worked in User Support Services at NCC from 1992-95.  She left NCC to become a Project Coordinator in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, where she managed a number of intervention studies for several years. In 2010, she was named Assistant Program Director for the Obesity Prevention Center. In 2017, Kerrin returned to NCC as Operations Director, where she manages staff and activities across the various work groups at NCC, including Database, Information Technology, Research Services, and User Support.

612.626.8570
kbrelje@umn.edu

Janet Pettit

Food and Nutrient Database Manager

Janet started working at NCC in 1985.  She became the Database Manager in 1995.  As Database Manager, she oversees the ongoing maintenance and enhancements to the NCC Food and Nutrient Database, including managing a team of database scientists.  She is also involved with the development and implementation of enhancements to NCC‘s software applications (e.g. FoodCalP, NDSM maintenance, and NDSR) and other ad-hoc NCC projects.

Bhas Jasthi, PhD, RD, LD

Food and Nutrient Database Scientist

Bhas received her PhD in Food Science and Nutrition. She has been with NCC since 2007. Bhas is primarily responsible for adding and updating nutrient values in the NCC Food and Nutrient Database. Nutrients that Bhas has added to the database over the years include vitamins D2 and D3, conjugated linoleic acid, gluten and lignans, to name a few.

Kris Schmitz

Food and Nutrient Database Scientist

Kris began working at NCC in 1986 as a food coder while she was attending the University of Minnesota. For over 30 years, she has worked on updating NCC’s Food and Nutrient database, particularly fast foods and commercial entrees. Kris also resolves new foods requests received from NDSR clients.

Jenny Stevenson

Food and Nutrient Database Scientist

Jenny started at NCC in 1992. She has worked on updating the NCC Food and Nutrient Database with information from various sources (e.g. manufacturers, USDA, FNDDS). Currently, Jenny also provides User Support to current and potential NDSR clients, supports licensing of the NCC Food and Nutrient Database, and co-leads NDSR training workshops.

Gordon Weil, MS

Information Technology Manager

Gordon has worked at NCC since 1996. As IT Manager, he is responsible for development and oversight of all of NCC’s software programs. He is currently the primary software developer for NDSR and FoodCalP and was one of the original developers for the internal NCC database maintenance program. Gordon also provides technical support to our NDSR users and NCC database clients.

Huong Duong

User Support Specialist

Huong began working at NCC in 1989 as an office assistant. Today Huong is the primary person responsible for answering the main NCC phone line and NDSRhelp email. She interacts with potential clients regarding their questions about licensing the NDSR program and provides wide range of technical support to current clients. In addition, Huong prepares all of the NDSR license and support agreements and manages billing for NDSR and NCC database licensing.

Julia Lorenzana Peasley, MPH

Research Services Manager

Julia started working at NCC as a dietary interviewer in 2011. She became the Research Services Lead in 2013 and Manager of Research Services in 2018. Julia is responsible for coordinating projects in the NCC Research Services Center as well as supervising all of our dietary interviewers.  She also oversees the NDSR Training program and co-leads trainings.

Mary M Austin                       

Information Technology Specialist/Data Manager

Mary began her career at NCC in 1990 doing data entry of food records and paper and pencil dietary recalls. For over 25 years, she has managed client data in the NCC Researcher Services Center. She receives, tracks and processes participant data from clients, then prepares and ships output files to clients once quality control is complete.


History

Offering solutions to the challenges of dietary intake assessment since 1974.

NCC was initiated in 1974 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to support the food coding and nutrient analysis needs of two historically significant national collaborative research programs – the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and the Lipid Research Clinics (LRC). For these studies a mainframe computer-based food coding and nutrient analysis system was created by NCC in collaboration with NHLBI and outside experts in nutrition, statistics, computer science and education. This system was designed for in-house use, with NCC staff responsible for using it to code foods for nutrient calculation.

By 1977 NCC services were made available to other researchers studying the impact of diet and nutrition on various health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, age-related eye disease, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

In 1988 NCC released Nutrition Data System (NDS), a DOS-based software program designed to provide a standardized interview and direct data entry for collection of dietary intake. For the first time, coding of foods and amounts was computerized providing immediate calculation of nutrient data. The software was developed for distribution to researchers for use on their computers. A user manual, technical support and training were among the services developed by NCC to support those using NDS.

Since 1988 NCC has worked to keep NDSR up-to-date with computer hardware and software advances, and dietary intake assessment methodological improvements. In addition, major expansion to the nutrients and foods in the NCC Food and Nutrient Database have been made to keep the database current with the ever expanding food marketplace and the growing number of nutrients and other food components of interest to researchers.

Today NCC continues to provide dietary intake assessment software and services, with these resources widely used for an array of research and health promotion activities.


Publications

Papers Published by NDSR Users

NDSR is used by researchers for an array of nutrition-related studies. Papers published in which the software is cited as having been used illustrate the widespread and varied application of this research tool.
Publications Citing NDSR

NCC Publications

A number of papers have been published describing NDSR and methods related to the development and maintenance of the NCC Food and Nutrient Database. References for these papers are provided in chronological order with links to abstracts and full texts provided where possible.
NCC Publications (PDF)