Laboratory, tools and technologies. The Institute of Nutrition has sixteen laboratories equipped with modern instruments that allow it to perform nutrition research, nutrient analysis of biological samples, food quality and safety analyses, as well as efficacy studies of nutrient and bioactive ingredients at in vitro, in cell line/tissue, in animals and humans.
In addition to basic equipments for the analysis of physical, chemical, biochemical and microbiological qualities of food and biological samples, INMU’s laboratories are also equipped with unique and modern equipment, for example:
- Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) for the analysis of stable isotope e.g. deuterium (2H), carbon-13 (13C), nitrogen-15 (15N), oxygen-18 (18O), which is the type of isotope found in nature. This analytical technique is the primary, internationally recognized method for studies on body composition and energy expenditure in humans during resting and exercise.
- Body composition measurement (Bod-PodTM) analyzes body water and fat as body composition.
- High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used for analyses of nutrients and bioactive ingredients,such as carotenoids, flavonoids, coenzyme Q10, water-soluble vitamins (vitamins C, B1 and B2), fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A and E), benzoic acid, and sorbic acid.
- Gas chromatography (GC) is used for analyses of nutrients and bioactive ingredients, such as fructans, inulin, oligosaccharide, phytosterol, cholesterol, and fatty acids.
- Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) allows simultaneous analysis of various minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc.
- Atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS): flame and non-flame is used for the analysis of minerals and heavy metals, such as sodium, potassium, lead, and cadmium.
- Spectrofluorometry is used for analysis of antioxidant activity.
- Clean room is used for analysis of stable isotope in studies of mineral absorption in humans.
- Cell culture facility, including laminar flow, carbondioxide incubator, etc., is used for efficacy study in human cell/tissue.
From past to present, the Institute of Nutrition emphasizes bringing research to practice. The Institute, therefore, develops its facilities to support knowledge transfer from laboratory to community and society. These facilities include the following premises.
- A field station in Ubonratchatani province, Northeast Thailand;
- A prototype factory for research and food product development for nutrition;
- A p rototype factory for research, training and drinking water production; and
- A clinical research unit.
The field station was established in 1973 at 8-12 Jang Sanit Rd., Jaeramae, Muang, Ubonratchatani Province. Located in the middle of Ubonratchatani city, the station was built in a peaceful green environment. The station consists of a house and two-story building containing meeting and work rooms, computers, audiovisual equipment, a field laboratory, a recreation room and 9 accommodation rooms. The field station provides facilities for researchers who are conducting projects in the province. It also serves as a training venue for domestic and international workshops, study visits and short-course training programs.
Prototype factory for research and food product development for nutrition
This prototype factory was established in 1991 and is located at the Institute of Nutrition in Salaya. It provides a venue for graduate training and research in food product development from laboratory to industrial levels. The prototype factory has space for undergoing the production process and laboratory work. It is also equipped with a sensory quality test room, kitchen, cold storage, work room, and an area for the small-scale marketing of foods and health food products.
Prototype factory for research, training and drinking water production
This prototype factory was established in 1997 through the cooperation of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Institute of Nutrition. It is an 8 x 17 square meter building located behind the Institute of Nutrition building in Salaya. The factory was designed by academics from the Food and Drug Administration and the Institute of Nutrition in order to conduct research and develop technologies for the development and distribution of drinking water by small factories in Thailand and neighboring countries. The factory has three water production systems (softening, reverse osmosis, deionization) and two sterilization systems (ultraviolet and ozone). The factory is also used as a research laboratory and demonstration area for local marketers of drinking water. Moreover, the factory derives an income from drinking water distribution, which has a production capacity of 1,600 liter/hour. The water is distributed to personnel on the Salaya campus and people in the surrounding community.
Clinical research unit
The Clinical Research Unit (CRU), operating under INMU’s Human Nutrition Division, conducts ethical and sound clinical research with an aim to improve the health of the Thai population. The main research objective is to gain insights into the metabolism of nutrients and non-nutrients in humans. Relationships between diets and chronic degenerative diseases are also explored. In addition, the CRU provides services on the assessment of nutritional status, body composition, basal metabolic rate, energy costs at rest and during exercise, and dietary counseling.