Clinical Nutrition Research Units (CNRUs) are an example of NCI-supported activities at the local level that would benefit from an integrated food data system. CNRUs are designed to create or strengthen nutrition research, training, and education through co-ordinated effort, intellectual stimulation, and use of shared resources. Each CNRU consists of: research with human subjects and populations; laboratory investigations; research training; educational programmes for medical students, house staff, practicing physicians, and paramedical personnel; nutritional support services; public information activities; and shared facilities and research services.
The NCI supports two CNRUs: one at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and the other at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center, and Rockefeller University in New York. Primary areas of research at the University of Alabama concern malnutrition of hospital patients, nutrition and cancer feeding problems, vitamin status assessment, and folic acid biochemistry and metabolism. In one study, researchers found that the intakes of women with cervical dysplasia were often low in ascorbate and deficient in folate. Moreover, folate supplementation resulted in reversal of the dysplasia. Investigations at the Memorial SloanKettering CNRU focus on nutrition and its relationship to cancer, immunology, burns, pharmacology, and the brain as well as metabolism, diabetes, and lipids. To help find optimal ways to prevent and treat weight loss, cachexia, and other metabolism derangements that occur with cancer, CNRU researchers are examining whether riboflavin deficiency in experimental animals affects suppression of T-cells by syngeneic tumours.