The CDNRC carries out the four core functions of the Institute for Medical Research (research, consultancy and technical advisory services, specialised diagnostic services, and training) and has the following as its objectives:
- to be the centre of excellence in conducting pre-clinical research in endocrinology and diet-related diseases especially in diabetes and cardiovascular health, and provide post-doctoral training in these areas;
- to be the centre of excellence in conducting pre-clinical studies in nutritional biochemistry;
- to act as the national reference laboratory for iodine assays in urine and water, and participate in iodine-deficiency eradication program;
- to provide consultative and advisory services to the Ministry of Health and other government agencies, particularly on matters related to Malaysian Food Laws and Regulation, national and international Codex issues, food safety and food analysis, national dietary guidelines and RDAs, food poverty line, and palm oil nutrition.