Clinical Research Core

Clinical Research Core

The ACNC Clinical Research Core (CRC) assists ACNC investigators with all aspects of clinical research aimed at improving maternal and child health and development. CRC team help with submitting and monitoring IRB applications, recruiting participants, conducting studies, training team members, and collecting, storing and managing data. The Core is equipped with cutting-edge technologies to evaluate nutrition, body composition, energy expenditure and to collect biological samples.


The CRC has a team of over 12 highly-trained team members dedicated to conducting clinical research. The CRC has a full-time Research Manager and a full-time Coordinator who manage the CRC team and provides assistance with all IRB submissions. The CRC also has a team of recruiters who help recruit for all ongoing studies by interacting with our Central Arkansas community to facilitate participation of families for ACNC clinical studies.

Research study visits are conducted by a team composed of:

  • Nutritionist who ensure accurate data collection for dietary intake, anthropometrics, body composition, and energy expenditure assessments.
  • Dietitians who ensure that the best practices are used for dietary intake data collection and assist with nutritional intervention design, planning and implementation.
  • Registered nurse dedicated to research data and biological sample collection.
  • Technician specialized in brain development and electroencephalogram (EEG) assessments.
  • Licensed Psychological Examiner who can assess infants, children and adults for mental, motor and language development; executive functions; intelligence quotient; behavioral milestones; and anxiety and depression.
  • Database Manager who design Microsoft Access and SQL Server databases for data storage and analyses.


The CRC facility is fully equipped to accommodate large longitudinal studies, clinical visits and overnight stays. It includes:

  • Five overnight rooms with fully equipped bathrooms
  • Lounge with TV/DVD/video games
  • Playroom
  • Nursing station
  • Two clinic rooms dedicated to the measurement of food intake and diet evaluation
  • Four clinic rooms dedicated to the evaluation of body composition
  • Five anthropometric and phlebotomy rooms
  • Two indirect calorimetry room
  • One nursing room
  • Two data collection rooms dedicated to the Licensed Psychological Examiners
  • Clinical laboratory to process and store all biological samples
  • Dining room and kitchen

Major Equipment and Methods

Dietary assessments are obtained using food frequency questionnaires, 3-day food records, or weighed food records. Indirect calorimetry is assessed in adults and children using a MOXUS metabolic cart and physical activity estimations are obtained using accelerometers.

Body composition assessments are obtained using quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance, air displacement plethysmography, or dual energy X-ray absorptiometry technologies, depending on the need of the research studies.

  • The Quantitative Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (QMR) technology creates contrast between soft tissues by taking advantage of the differences in relaxation times of the hydrogen nuclei spins in these tissues, leading to a precise and accurate measure of body fat, fat free mass and total water. The CRC uses the QMR for infants and children up to 50 kg. This device was custom-designed to accommodate our pediatric population. Major advantages of this technology include: 3 minute assessment, no radiation exposure, no requirement for immobilization, and repeated data acquisition is possible throughout infancy and childhood.
  • The Air Displacement Plethysmography (ADP) technology provides a precise and accurate measure of fat mass. The BodPod is used for children and adults while the PeaPod is used for infants up to 6 months old. This technique measures body weight and body volume. The body density obtained from these measures help to estimate body fat and fat free mass that takes about 3-5 minutes to complete.
  • The Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) technology provides a very precise and accurate measure of bone mass. It can also measure fat and lean body mass. The CRC uses the Hologic Horizon A with visceral core assessment. This technology uses low levels of X-ray to detect differences between bone and soft tissues. Participants need to remain still during the 3 minute scanning process.