Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory

researcher working in lab

The mission of the Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory is to provide high quality nutritional biomarker data to facilitate scientific research that evaluates nutritional factors in relation to human health outcomes through the use of objective biomarkers.

The Nutritional Biomarker Lab is a core facility within the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and we strive to collaborate with investigators within the Harvard community and beyond, nonprofit and for-profit alike, and contribute to scientific findings.

Assay Methods

To learn more about these assay methods, or to request the lab’s services, contact: 

Meet the Team


Qi Sun, Faculty Director

Dr. Qi Sun’s research focuses on identifying novel biomarkers of diet and environmental exposures and risk of excess weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by integrating the state-of-the-art of omics technologies and nutritional epidemiological approaches. His research has led to the discovery of endogenous metabolites (e.g., very-long chain saturated fatty acids), endocrine disruptors (e.g., bisphenol A and per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances), circulating proteins (e.g., fatty acid binding protein 4 and soluble leptin receptor), and gut microbiome as predictors or modulators of human metabolic diseases. He is also an established nutritional epidemiologist and has led numerous projects to elucidate associations between various dietary factors and cardiometabolic conditions in populations with and without diabetes. His study findings have enhanced the understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying nutrition and metabolic health and contributed to the US dietary guidelines for chronic disease prevention.
See Dr. Sun's full bio
Mahsa Fardisi, MS PhD

Mahsa Fardisi, Senior Lab Manager

Dr. Mahsa Fardisi is a Senior Lab Manager in the Nutritional Biomarker Lab. She obtained her MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University West Lafayette IN, where she studied food and feed susceptibility to insect pests. During her postdoctoral training at the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management at Purdue, her research focused on controlling German cockroaches while reducing their resistance to chemicals. Prior to joining the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health community, Mahsa worked as a research assistant at Michigan State University, where she studied early-life adversity on gut immune development in a porcine model. She joined Harvard Chan as a Laboratory Operations Manager in 2022, working with a diverse group of researchers in the Hotamışlıgil lab. Born and raised in Shiraz, Iran, Mahsa enjoys spending time in nature and painting in her free time.
Headshot of Xiaowen Wang

Xiaowen Wang, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Xiaowen is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Nutrition Department and also works in the Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in the field of Epidemiology and Health Statistics from Peking University and a second Ph.D. in Medical Science from Osaka University. Xiaowen’s research is focused on identifying genetic factors, lifestyles, diet and environmental exposures and risk of cardiovascular disease by using population-based cohort studies. Her research interests also include elucidating the role of plasma metabolomics in cardiometabolic health.
Eileen Jang

Eileen Jang, Research Assistant

Eileen is a Research Assistant in the lab. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science in Boston with a degree in Pharmaceutical Science. She previously worked as an Undergraduate Researcher and performed HPLC analysis of sunscreen chemicals that are harmful to the marine ecosystem. In her spare time, she enjoys rock climbing and playing the violin.

Yazeed Allan, Research Assistant

History of the Lab

The history of the Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory dates back to the late 1980s when Dr. Frank Sacks saw the need for establishing a reliable method for assessing fatty acid contents in human biospecimens and food samples. At that time, methods were not sensitive enough to accurately measure fatty acids important to health, such as EPA and trans unsaturated fatty acids. Dr. Sacks spearheaded a capillary gas chromatography (GC)-based assay to initially quantify levels of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and individual trans fatty acids in blood samples at the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The GC method was designed to allow faster and more economic assessments of fatty acids. In 1992, Dr. Sacks established the Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory as a core lab at Harvard School of Public Health, and the lab continued to help investigators to quantify fatty acids in human or food specimens.

In 1998, Dr. Hannia Campos took over the lab as the faculty director, and further fine-tuned the GC assay. Concurrently, an HPLC method was added for measuring antioxidant carotenoids. In 2010, Dr. Jeremy Furtado succeeded Dr. Campos as the manager of the lab. During his tenure at the lab between 2010 and 2022, Dr. Furtado and Dr. Sacks developed a novel assay for measuring lipoprotein subspecies defined by the apolipoprotein contents within the broad categories of very-low-density, low-density, and high-density lipoproteins. This assay paves the road for exploring the role of lipoprotein subspecies in the etiology of chronic conditions.

Frank Sacks, Hannia Campos, Jeremy Furtado
Drs. Frank Sacks, Hannia Campos, and Jeremy Furtado