Nutrition Core

The Nutrition Core consists of the Nutrition Assessment Unit and the Dietary Assessment Unit and is overseen by Babette Zemel, PhD, Scientific Director, and Charlene Compher, RD, PhD, Technical Director.

Scientific Director:
Babette Zemel, PhD
Phone: 215-590-1669

Technical Director, Dietary Assessment Unit:
Charlene Compher, RD, PhD
Phone: 215-898-3619

Nutrition Core: Nutrition Assessment Unit

The Nutrition Assessment Unit of the Nutrition Core is a state-of-the-art facility for the assessment of growth and body dimensions, body composition (the amount of muscle, fat and bone in the body), energy expenditure, bone density, and muscle strength. The Unit has two locations and four experienced technicians for performing research assessments. Services provided by the Nutrition Assessment Unit include:

  • Basic Measurements (Height/length/weight/head circumference)
  • Knee Height Assessment for Short Term Growth
  • Circumferences (Arm/waist/hip/chest/calf)
  • Skin Fold Thicknesses (Biceps/triceps/subscapular/supra iliac)
  • Alternate Height Assessments (Lower leg length/upper arm length)
  • Breadth Measures (Elbow, Shoulder, Abdominal depth)
  • Indirect Calorimetry
    • Resting Energy Expenditure (REE, fasting with inpatient admission to CHPS)
    • Sleep Energy Expenditure (SEE) (Fasting non-AM study)
    • Respiratory Quotient (RQ) (Fasting)
    • Post-Prandial Resting Energy Expenditure
  • Physical Activity
    • Acti-trac Accelerometers
  • Infant Total Body Electrical Conductivity (TOBEC)
  • Pea Pod (Infant Body Composition by Air-Displacement Plethysmography)
  • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
  • Anthropometry
  • Whole Body Dual Energy X-ray Abosrptiometry (DXA)
  • Cross-sectional muscle area and fat area by peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (pQCT)
  • Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) - For Infants, Children and Adults
    • Whole Body Bone Density and Body Composition
    • AP Lumbar Spine
    • Lateral Lumbar Spine
    • Hip
    • Forearm
    • Distal Femur
    • Intervertebal Assessment
  • Peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (pQCT)
    • Cortical and trabecular bone density, cortical thickness and strain-strength index by measurement of
    • Distal tibia
    • Distal radius
  • Ultrasound (CUBA)
    • Calcaneus (children of 7 years of age and adults)
  • Biodex (isometric strength)
  • Force Plate (jump strength)
  • Urine Pregnancy Testing prior to DXA Scan(s)
  • Stable Isotope Dosing and Urine Collection Instruction
  • Parent Education (Food records/stool and/or urine collections)
  • Pubertal Assessment Form


CHOP CHPS Nutrition Assessment Unit


Core Director: Scientific Director
Babette Zemel, PhD
Lead Technician: Gail Jackson 215-590-4159
NGL Technician: Deborah Ellerbe, BA 215-590-7336

Nutrition Core: Dietary Assessment Unit

The Dietary Assessment Unit of the Nutrition Core provides a broad range of nutrition-related research services to investigators at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC). Services include:

We can develop methodologies for research protocols including:

  • Metabolic/controlled nutrient diet plans
  • Monitoring plans during a controlled diet
  • Food frequency questionnaires, food records, and nutrition data collection forms
  • Special meals designed by protocol parameters
  • Duplicate, weighed meals for nutrient balance studies

We can provide customized nutritional counselling interventions for inpatient and outpatient research protocols.

  • Study Coordinator training for nutrition data collection
  • Family and study subject training on proper methods for weighing and measuring food items for food recalls/records

The metabolic kitchen can provide numerous services including:

  • Recipe development and modification
  • Food product design and production for study interventions
  • Calculation and serving of special research diets, including constant diets and regulated fluid intake
  • Telephone-based Food Recalls
  • Food Records
  • Food Frequency Questionnaires
  • Participant Training for Food Intake Survey Data Collection
  • Nutrition Data Systems for Research

Technical Director: Dietary Assessment Unit

Charlene Compher, RD, PhD
Phone: 215-898-3619

Debra Cahn, RD, LDN 215-590-1650
Erin Donaldson, BS 215-590-0146

CHOP CHPS Bionutrition Unit

Lisa Basel Brown, MS, RD, LDN 215-662-7824
Cheryl Milhoan, MS, RD 215-662-3180


Metabolic Kitchen 215-662-2682
Nipsey Mitchell
Meghann Crouch