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Brian Bennett, Ph.D.

Brian Bennett, Ph.D., an emerging scientist in nutrigenomics, joined the NRI on December 1, 2011 as Assistant Professor.

Dr. Bennett, with his passion to help prevent heart disease, researches the role of the human diet and nutrition as it relates to heart disease. He explores genetic components of chronic metabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, through integrative genetic studies, also called “systems genetics.” Dr. Bennett’s studies examine the relationship among many types of data such as genetic variants, gene expression levels and metabolite levels and how these interact to increase susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Dr. Bennett is excited to use these methods to investigate the effects of specific dietary components on metabolic diseases. In particular he is focused on how diet affects gene expression.

Dr. Bennett focuses on the role of a particular metabolite (TMAO) which appears to change with diet, and is predictive of cardiovascular disease in humans. Now continuing this study at the NRI, Dr. Bennett is working to identify the interaction of groups of genes, also called biologic networks regulating TMAO levels and affecting cardiovascular disease.

Bennett completed his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 1995. He then earned his Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences at University of New Hampshire in 1997. With his Ph.D. earned in Nutritional Sciences at University of Washington in 2006, Dr. Bennett conducted his post doctoral work at UCLA. Based on his academic accomplishments and experience in the professional environment with Pfizer Animal Health, he developed a laser focus in systems genetics. During this time, he explored nutrition as it relates to genetics, now known as the formal study of “nutrigenomics.”

In 2010, Dr, Bennett earned a prestigious K99/R00 “Pathways to Independence Award” from the NIH. This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute enables him to further study how genes and diet affect atherosclerosis. Prior to that, he was awarded an NIH Training and American Heart Association Grants.

In addition to his appointment at the NRI, Dr. Bennett has an appointment in the Department of Genetics at UNC.

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Current Research Staff:
Jody Albright
Allison Nestor
Tangi Smallwood
Annalouise O'Connor