About the HNRCA

Exterior of HNRCA building.

Our Mission

To be a preeminent research hub at the nexus of aging and nutrition, renowned for transforming life’s later years into a period marked by robust health, realized potential, and profound fulfillment.

About the Center

The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, located in Boston, MA, is one of six human nutrition research centers supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We are a bench to bedside research center that generates translational scientific results. We are run by a cooperative agreement between the USDA and Tufts University and our center is one of the largest research centers in the world studying nutrition and its relationship to healthy aging and physical activity.

The HNRCA is the Tufts University resource for training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in human nutrition and aging research. Many HNRCA scientists are faculty at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Medicine, and/or the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University and/or have appointments at Tufts Medical Center. HNRCA scientists have ongoing collaborations across the four Tufts University campuses and serve on university leadership positions.

Our Impact

We are one of the largest research centers in the world studying healthy aging and its relationship to nutrition and physical activity. We have made significant contributions to U.S. and international nutritional and physical activity recommendations, public policy, and clinical healthcare.

Our research contributions include advancements in:

  • The role of dietary calcium and vitamin D in promoting nutrition and bone health
  • The role of nutrients in maintaining optimal immune response and prevention of infectious diseases
  • The role of diet in prevention of cancer
  • Obesity research
  • The study of the microbiome
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Preventing sarcopenia
  • The role of diet in prevention of heart disease
  • Nutrition and Vision
  • How genetic factors impact predisposition to weight gain and various health indicators
  • Front of packaging food labeling initiatives
  • Contributions to USDA nutrient data bank
  • The Food Guide Pyramid (MyPlate for Older Adults)
  • The HNRCA has relationships with most industry leaders related to nutrition, including the majority of the top 25 food and beverage companies in the world.