Who We Are
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.
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 Funding
NCC is located in the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Nutrition Coordinating Center activities are supported through licensing of the NDSR software to researchers and licensing of NCC Food and Nutrient database files to the scientific community and app developers for a variety of purposes, including use for nutrition related apps and websites.
In addition, NCC receives revenue for providing nutrient analysis and data collection support services, including the collection of dietary recalls, food record analysis, and menu analysis, to research studies led by other investigators.
Publications directly related to the NCC Food and Nutrient Database are funded through Internal University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center funds, unless otherwise stated in the publication acknowledgements.
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Meet the NCC Team
Small but Mighty
Many of the largest technology companies created their first successful products with teams of fewer than 10 people. The same is true for the Nutrition Coordinating Center. We have a small but mighty staff that maintains and updates the NDSR software and NCC Food and Nutrient database. Our team consists of 4 database scientists, 1 programmer, and 2 specialists providing user support and training to NDSR clients. Most members of the team wear multiple hats and every individual plays an important role in accomplishing NCC’s mission. NCC’s work is led by a small leadership team, including a part-time Director, a part-time Associate Director, and a Director of Operations.
In addition, we have a group of part-time and hourly employees, including undergraduate and graduate students, that collects and processes dietary recalls and food records for researchers.
NCC Director, Professor and Interim Division Head, Division of Epidemiology & 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.
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.
Julia Lorenzana Peasley, MPH
Director of Operations
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. In 2023, Julia became Director of Operations and is now responsible for managing staff and activities across the various workgroups at NCC, including Database, Information Technology, Research Services, and User Support. She also oversees the NDSR Training program and co-leads trainings.
Kerrin Brelje, MPH, RD
Special Projects 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 University of Minnesota Healthy Weight Research Center. In 2017, Kerrin returned to NCC as Operations Director, where she managed staff and activities across the various work groups at NCC, including Database, Information Technology, Research Services, and User Support. In Summer 2023, Kerrin took on the role of Special Projects Director to assist with implementation of activities related to NCC’s 5 year strategic plan designed to meet the Center’s mission to support nutrition research and health promotion by providing state-of-the-art software and databases for nutrition assessment
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.
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.
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.
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.
Katelin Raimondi, MS, RD
Research Services Associate
Katelin joined NCC in 2022. She has her MS in Dietetics and Nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian. She supports multiple service areas, including Research Services, User Support, and Training. She also contributes to our NDSR development and testing team.
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.
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
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)