The Nutrition Research Lab

The Nutrition Research Laboratory (NRL) was inaugurated in 1990 as part of outreach research operations to AKU Research laboratories. It is equipped with standardized facilities to support the research focusing on women and child health. It was founded by Distinguished Professor Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, a world-renowned nutritional researcher. 

Over the years, the laboratory has increased its capacity and repertoire of investigations to include a range of micronutrient estimations, metabolic balance studies, body composition studies, and indirect calorimetry. NRL is certified for its excellence and quality control procedures by VITAL-EQA, LAMP, and EQUIP programs of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA. NRL also uses third-party controls for its assays. 

The objective of the NRL is to analyze micronutrients and biological markers, develop, and standardize methods and protocols for use in the evaluation of micronutrient deficiencies and associated pathologies.  

Recent major projects include the analysis of the national nutrition surveys of Pakistan (NNS) in 2002, 2011, and 2018. Sindh, Maternal and Infant micronutrient studies in Sindh (UNICEF 2000-2005) and the Sindh/Punjab Salt iodization and status survey (2007). The Department of Paediatrics & Child Health has also won competitive projects to undertake the national nutrition surveys for Afghanistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, thus establishing a footprint in South Asia.  ​

Technical expertise

The NRL has the ability to perform micronutrient analysis, ELISA, serological tests, and microbiological assays, including. 
  • Detection of vitamin-A, vitamin D, folic acid, and vitamin B12 by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and immuno-analyzer in biological and food samples
  • Serum & RBC folate estimation through microbiologic assay 
  • Intestinal Permeability Test by HPLC-RI detection
  • Zinc, lead, & copper by atomic absorption spectroscopy
  • Ferritin, C-reactive protein, calcium, α1-acid glycoprotein chemistry analyzers
  • Urinary Iodine by a calorimetric method using a Microplate reader
  • Food & Nutrition studies including fat and protein estimation 
  • Breath Hydrogen test
  • Claudin, lipocalin, calprotectin, and pregnancy-associated plasma through ELISA
  • SARS-CoV-2 antibodies qualitative and quantitate assays
  • SARS-CoV-2 neutralization antibodies assay
  • PBMCs isolation and archiving
  • Stool nucleic acids isolation for microbiome analysis 
  • Production or organoids from normal and malnourished gut biopsies​