Center for Human Nutrition

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The UCLA Center for Human Nutrition was established in 1996 to provide leadership in nutritional sciences at UCLA by facilitating interdisciplinary research, improving patient care, and creating educational initiatives for health professionals and the public. As we move into the 21st century, nutrition will be the central focus of our efforts to prevent and treat common chronic diseases through integrating scientific, medical and public health approaches. The specific objectives of the Center are to: (a) provide academic leadership in nutritional sciences within the Center for Health Sciences and the University of California, Los Angeles; (b) provide the administrative support structure to enhance research, education, patient care, and community outreach in nutrition; (c) provide the resources and environment uniquely attractive and suited to unprecedented interdisciplinary integration of nutrition research; (d) continue to foster the pioneering tradition of Medical Center physicians and University scientists to study methods of using naturally occurring nutrients and chemicals in foods to treat and prevent diseases; and (e) increase the biodiversity and health benefits of the American diet.

Population Served

  1. Overweight and Obese Community through research and practice
  2. Cancer Survivors seeking Nutritional Advice
  3. Medical Nutrition Outpatient and Inpatient Consultation

Types of Services

  1. Outpatient consultation-individual
  2. Weight Management – Group and Individual
  3. Core Laboratory Services in Phytochemistry, Biomarkers for Research in Nutrition and Dietary Supplements.

Current Clinical Programs

The UCLA Risk Factor Obesity Program is a multidisciplinary weight management program based in the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. It meets weekly throughout the year and provides psychological support, nutrition education, and medically supervised very low calorie and low calorie diets to patients with overweight and obesity complicated by metabolic syndrome and other obesity-associated diseases not addressed by current medical or dietetic practice.


For 20 years we have directed a course entitled “Physiology of Nutrition” to over 200 undergraduates including about 50 percent Pre-Med majors. We also teach in the medical school, nursing school, and in public health.

Current Research

Our research focus is on the mutiple compounds found in a matrix within fruits, vegetables,spices, and herbs. These combinations of various substances work differently than individual compounds in terms of their bioactivity. Our work has concentrated on Chinese Red Yeast Rice, Pomegranate and Berry Polyphenols, Spice Polyphenols, and fatty acids. Our research is also focused on protein and muscle maintenance as well as control of weight through exercise and diet strategies.

Selected Publications

  • Li, Z., Aronson, W.J., Arteaga, J.R., Hong, K., Thames, G., Henning, S.M.., Liu, W., Elashoff, R., Ashley, J.M., Heber D. Feasibility of a LowFat/High Fiber Diet Intervention with Soy Supplementation in Prostate Cancer Patients after Prostatectomy. 2007 Mar 28; Epub ahead of print
  • Seeram, N.P.; Aronson, W.J.; Zhang, Y.; Henning, S.M.; Moro, A.; Lee, R.; Sartippour, M.; Harris, D.M.; Rettig, M.B.; Suchard, M.A.; Pantuck, A.J.; Belldegrun, A.; Heber, D. Pomegranate ellagitannin derived metabolites inhibit prostate cancer growth and localize to the mouse prostate gland. J Agric Food Chem. 2007, 55:7752-7737
  • Sartippour MR, Seeram NP, Rao JY, Moro A, Harris DM, Henning SM, Firouzi A, Rettig MB, Aronson WJ, Pantuck AJ, Heber D. Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Int J Oncol., Int J Oncol 2008, 32(2): 475-480
  • Heber D, Seeram NP, Wyatt H, Henning SM, Zhang Y, Ogden LG, Dreher M, Hill JO. Safety and antioxidant activity of a pomegranate ellagitannin-enriched polyphenol dietary supplement in overweight individuals with increased waist size. J Agric Food Chem. 2007, 55(24):10050-4.
  • Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, Henning SM, Feng L, Dreher M, Heber D. Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2008, 56(4): 1415-22.
  • Seeram NP, Zhang Y, McKeever R, Henning SM, Lee RP, Suchard MA, Li Z, Chen S, Thames G, Zerlin A, Nguyen M, Wang D, Dreher M, Heber D. Pomegranate juice and extracts provide similar levels of plasma and urinary ellagitannin metabolites in human subjects. J Med Food. 2008 Jun;11(2):390-394.
  • eeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, Henning SM, Feng L, Dreher M, Heber D. Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 27;56(4):1415-22.
  • Hong KM, Belperio JA, Keane MP, Burdick MD, Strieter RM. Differentiation of human circulating fibrocytes as mediated by transforming growth factor-beta and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. J Biol Chem. 2007 Aug 3;282(31):22910-20. Green tea induces annexin-I expression in human lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells:involvement of annexin-I in actin remodeling. Lab Invest. 2007 May;87(5):456-65. Epub 2007 Mar 12.
  • Hong MY, Seeram NP, Zhang Y, Heber D. Anticancer effects of Chinese red yeast rice versus monacolin K alone on colon cancer cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Jul;19(7):448-58.

Northworthy Endeavors

We have a leading role in the identification and characterization of phytochemicals in antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and immune modulation. This endeavor includes defining the bioavaialability and metabolic fate of digested phytochemicals and differences in dietary patterns

Faculty and Staff

Kurt Hong, MD, PhD Assistant Professor

Susanne Henning, PhD Associate Adj. Professor

Qing-Yi Lu, PhD, Assistant Researcher

Catherine Carpenter, PhD, Associate Researcher

Simin Liu MD, PhD, Professor (Joint Appointment)

Steven Chen, MD, Clinical Instructor

Eric Yan, MD, Clinical Instructor

Gail Thames, Adminstrator of the Clinical Research Unit

Barbara Hsieh, Funds Manager

Chela Castro, MSO

Alona Zerlin, MS, RD, Research Dietitian

Joe Walker, Administrator, RFO Weight Management Program

Yanjun Zhang, PhD, Natural Product Chemist

Rupo Lee, Natural Product Chemistry Research Assistant

Luyi Li, Research Chemist, Biomarker Lab

Kun Gao, Research Chemist, Biomarker Lab

Selected Center’s Accomplishments

First U.S. Trial of Chinese Red Yeast Rice published in 1999

Extensive Research on Fruits and Vegetables in Inhibition of Inflammation

NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research 1999-2006

NIH Nutrition and Obesity Training Grant 1991-2007

NIH Clinical Nutrition Research Unit 1991-2007


David Heber, MD,PhD, Director

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD

Assistant Director for Scientific Administration

  • Navindra Seeram, PhD, Assistant Director for Laboratories
  • Zhaoping Li, MD,PhD, Assistant Director for Clinical Resarch

How the Center is Funded

Patient Care Funds (DMPG and RFO)

NIH Grants

Dept. of Defense Grant

Foundation Grants (e.g Prostate Cancer Foundation)

Industrial Grants for Clinical and Basic Research

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