Research Focus

The ASU/NCRC Human Performance Laboratory is a national leader in the area of nutrition and exercise immunology. We have conducted research with the following:

The Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis, NC ( is operated by Appalachian State University (ASU) ( The ASU-NCRC Human Performance Lab (HPL) was established in the spring of 2009 and is directed by David C. Nieman, DrPH, FACSM.  Dr. Nieman is a pioneer in the research area of exercise and nutrition immunology, has written more than 325 peer-reviewed publications and nine books on health, exercise science, and nutrition, and received $8.5 million in research funding since 1990. Dr. Nieman’s H index is 81, and his publications have been cited more than 22,000 times. He received the Research Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine in 2013.

The NCRC is a mixed-use, biotechnology research facility located in downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina, approximately 20 miles northeast of downtown Charlotte.  The NCRC is home to eight universities (Appalachian State University, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State University, UNC-Greensboro, and UNC-Charlotte), and multiple companies.  The mission of the NCRC is to improve human health through research in nutrition.  The David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) is a nonprofit research institute that provides high-quality laboratory services to the NCRC.  The DHMRI occupies over 110,000 square feet of space and provides a complete environment containing instrumentation, resident expertise, and well-equipped laboratories that bring together a variety of disciplines (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, microscopy, and NMR) under one roof.

ASU operates two laboratories at the NCRC, and collaborates with researchers across the campus.  The mission of the ASU-NCRC HPL is to investigate unique nutritional products as countermeasures to exercise- and obesity-induced immune dysfunction, inflammation, illness, and oxidative stress.  Research funding is provided through multiple industry partners, including Gatorade/PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Gatorade, Blueberry Council, Penta Water, Quercegen Pharma, Cooper Concepts, McCormick Spice, Dole Foods, Reoxcyn Discoveries Group, Biothera, Direct Digital, Gaia Herbs, and Metagenics. A wide variety of athletes and athletic groups have been tested by the ASU research group including Swim MAC, Hendrick Motor Sports pit crew members, Carolina Bobcats, high school athletes from the A.L. Brown Kannapolis and Cox Mill High Schools, and cyclists, runners, and triathletes from most of the clubs in the Charlotte metropolitan area.   

Discoveries by Dr. Nieman and his research team include:


  • Beals K, Allison KF, Darnell M, Lovalekar M, Nieman DC, Baker R, Vodovotz Y, Lephart SM. The effects of tart cherry beverage on reducing exercise-induced muscle soreness. Isokinetics and Exercise Science 2017;25:53-63. 


  • McBride ME, Meaney MP, John C, Nieman DC, Warin RF. Flow cytometric analysis of natural killer cell lytic activity in human whole blood. J Vis Exp 2017;121, e54779. 
  • Clauss S, Scherr J, Hanley A, Schneider J, Klier I, Lackermair K, Vogeser M, Nieman DC, Halle M, Nickel T. Impact of polyphenols on physiological stress and cardiac burden in marathon runners – results from a sub-study of the BeMAGIC study. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 2017;doi:10.1139/apnm-2016-0457. 
  • Bermon S, Castell LM, Calder PC, Bishop NC, Blomstrand E, Mooren FC, Kruger K, Kavazis AN, Quindry JC, Senchina DS, Nieman DC, Gleeson M, Pyne DB, Kitic CM, Close GL, Larson-Meyer DE, Marcos A, Meydani SN, Wu D, Walsh NP, Nagatomi R. Consensus statement: Immunonutrition and exercise. Exerc Immunol Rev 2017;23:8-50. 
  • Lackermair K, Scherr J, Waidhauser G, Methe H, Hoster E, Nieman DC, Hanley A, Clauss S, Halle M, Nickel T. Influence of polyphenol-rich diet on stress-induced Immunomodulation. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2017; (in press). 
  • Nieman DC, Sha W, Pappan KL. IL-6 linkage to exercise-induced shifts in lipid-related metabolites: A metabolomics-based analysis. J Proteome Res. 2017;16:970-977. 
  • Nieman DC, Ramamoorthy S, Kay CD, Goodman CL, Capps CR, Shue ZL, Heyl N, Grace MH, Lila MA. Influence of ingesting a flavonoid-rich supplement on the human metabolome and concentration of urine phenolics. J Proteome Res (in press). 
  • Nieman DC. Impact of nutrition on immune system recovery from heavy exertion: A metabolomics perspective. Nutrients 2017;9:513. 
  • Nieman DC. The common cold is less common among the fit. ACSM Health & Fitness Journal 2017; (under review).
  • The protective effect of regular moderate exercise in augmenting immunity and decreasing illness
  • The anti-inflammatory benefits of ingesting one liter of sports drink with 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of heavy exertion

  • The pro-oxidative (thus harmful) effect of using large dose vitamin E supplements prior to competing in an Ironman race

  • The pro-inflammatory (thus harmful) influence of using ibuprofen during competitive ultra-marathon races

  • The anti-pathogenic influence of quercetin (1,000 mg/day) in endurance athletes

  • Runners experience a profound systemic shift in blood metabolites related to energy production especially from the lipid super pathway

  • Vitamin D2 supplementation in NASCAR pit crew athletes amplifies eccentric-exercise induced muscle damage.

  • A 45-minute exercise bout (in the metabolic chamber) increases metabolism for 19 hours post-exercise with an extra energy expenditure of 190 kilocalories (above resting levels).

  • Energy restriction in mice increases levels of physical activity and muscle mitochondria.

  • Community adults exercising aerobically five days or more per week have a 43% reduction in the number of days sick with the common cold compared to sedentary adults (after adjustment for multiple factors).

  • Ingestion of quercetin supplements over a 12-week period causes a significant increase in over 100 metabolites, and reduces blood pressure, but has no effect on body composition, mental cognition, inflammation, or oxidative stress.

  • C-reactive protein and IL-6 (inflammation factors) are most influenced by body mass index (BMI), followed by gender and exercise frequency.

  • Banana consumption during heavy exertion supports performance and carbohydrate substrate utilization, and attenuates inflammation, to the same degree as Gatorade.

  • Chia seed supplementation over 10 weeks increases plasma alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) only if consumed in milled form.  Chia seed intake does not alter disease risk factors but significantly improves dietary fiber, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid intake.

  • A mixture of quercetin, green tea extract, and fish oil reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in cycler's during heavy exertion, but only when ingested for two weeks or longer.

  • Regular aerobic exercise has a significant relationship with multiple measures of psychological health, but not with mental cognition in community adults (age and education level are more important).

  • Red pepper and turmeric supplements in obese women do not lower chronic inflammation or alter disease risk factors.

  • Exercise-induced inflammation during 2-h cycling bouts is most closely related to the average intensity maintained by the cyclist.

  • Quercetin supplementation in community adults lowers blood pressure and causes and a significant and disparate shift in metabolites as measured through metabolomics.

  • Heavy exertion induces a release of small phenolics from the gut following two weeks of supplementation with blueberry and green tea extract, and these exert anti-viral effects.

  • A 3-day period of functional overreaching results in higher muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation in runners compared to cyclists.

  • Runners experience a profound systemic shift in blood metabolites related to energy production especially from the lipid super pathway following 3 days of heavy exertion, and this is not fully restored to pre-exercise levels after 14 h recovery.

  • Vitamin D2 supplementation in NASCAR pit crew athletes amplifies eccentric-exercise induced muscle damage.

  • Pistachios consumed before and during heavy exertion is related to the release of the trisaccharide raffinose into the bloodstream and impaired performance in endurance cyclists.



Please view the following videos about research: