The Metabolic Research Unit (MRU) is a 25,000-square foot facility and is comprised of Volunteer Services, Nursing Services, and Dietary Services. The MRU’s Volunteer Services Division maintains a database of approximately 50,000 individuals from which they can recruit. In addition, potential study participants are recruited for a variety of population, longitudinal, metabolic, and free-living nutrition studies through use of social media, advertisements, and mailing lists. Research nurses and support staff implement research protocols and continually assess and monitor free-living study participants. Physician coverage is provided for each protocol to ensure study participant safety and to conduct procedures such as fat and muscle biopsies, and glucose monitoring testing. Registered dietitians and dietary support staff develop and implement the dietary component of research protocols, which includes strict feeding protocols created in the MRU research kitchen with careful food intake monitoring throughout the duration of each study. All human research studies carried out in the MRU are reviewed and approved by the Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University Health Sciences (TUHS) Institutional Review Board (IRB). These studies and the TUHS IRB are regulated by Federal guidelines established by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration. All MRU staff are required to be certified in human subject research participation and designated staff must complete ongoing mandatory training.
The MRU works collaboratively with investigators by providing the following services:
Preparing budgetary costs associated with MRU services
Designing and implementing various strategies for recruitment of study volunteers
Assessing the health status and appropriateness of participation of study volunteers
Monitoring the safety and well-being of enrolled study participants
Ensuring IRB compliance with regulations involving the protection of human research participants
Carrying out clinical procedures associated with research protocols
Designing study-specific diets and ensuring volunteer compliance with diets
Cheryl H. Gilhooly, PhD, MPH, RD Manager Provides administrative and scientific leadership to the Metabolic Research Unit and is responsible for the day to day operations of the unit including its three divisions (Nursing, Volunteer, and Dietary Services).
Nursing Services Jean McShea, R.N., Nurse and Nursing Supervisor Janice Klian, R.N., Staff Nurse Susan McCormack, R.N., Staff Nurse Carmelle St. Victor, Nursing Aid Margaret Vilme, R.N., Staff Nurse Mary Weiss, R.N., Staff Nurse
Dietary Services Helen Rasmussen, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., L.D.N., Research Dietician and Dietary Services Supervisor Verona Bembridge, Sr. Nutrition Technician Chervonte Hernandez-Lam, Nutrition Technician Mazie McIntosh, Food Production Technician Wintlett Williams, Nutrition Technician