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The Human interventions Studies unit (HISU) is dedicated to the carrying out of nutritional intervention trials on human volunteers.

Studies may range from strictly-controlled residential trials – featuring a range of metabolic measurements – to non-residential trials with periodic checks.

The unit features:

  • A specially-designed residential suite with accommodation, in which up to 11 human volunteers may be accommodated for days or weeks at a time
  • A kitchen for preparation of duplicate meals

The unit's state-of-the-art analytical facilities include:

  • An exercise suite with BodPod, ergometer, treadmill, ergospirometer and bone densitometer
  • A gastrointestinal laboratory, with access to a Category II laboratory for blood sampling and analysis

In addition, markers of health and nutrition can be analysed in biological samples using our Clinical Chemistry Analyser or High Performance Liquid Chromatography machine.

Support for health claims

There is increased awareness of the role of diet which, in addition to meeting the metabolic needs of individuals, can have beneficial physiological and psychological effects and can help reduce the risk of disease. Food manufacturers have been quick to recognise this increased awareness by consumers, and the growing list of health claims in relation to food products has, in turn, come under considerable scrutiny from international legislative bodies in recent years.

One of the most important roles of the HISU is to perform rigorous scientific testing of potential health benefits associated with food products and dietary supplements. Additionally, the work of the HISU will help in the discovery of new health benefits.

Multidisciplinary science

The HISU is located within the state-of-the-art Centre for Molecular Biosciences (CMB) of the Ulster University, alongside NICHE's Biochemistry and Molecular Biology facilities, where ongoing research areas include the role of diet in different types of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. This close proximity enables close collaboration and understanding between scientists across the 'spectrum' from the laboratory bench to the human subject, enabling optimal quality in the design, execution and interpretation of diet/health-related intervention studies.

Courses available

Phlebotomy Course (approved by the National Association of Phlebotomists): this 2 day course in adult venepuncture integrates academic learning with practical application.

Following the course, trainees will have up to three months to complete 30 successful draws with periodic assessment before they become certified.