Folami Ideraabdullah, Ph.D.
Folami Ideraabdullah, Ph.D., joined the UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) in January 2013 as an Assistant Professor of Genetics in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Her long-term research goal is to understand the role of gene-environment interactions in phenotypic variation and disease.
Dr. Ideraabdullah’s research aims to dissect mechanisms by which individuals with similar genetic make-up, exhibit dissimilar phenotypes. Specifically, she plans to study the effects of nutrition on epigenetic states during development and how DNA sequence and exposure to environmental toxicants may alter these effects. These studies play an important role in understanding how interactions between nutrients, genetics and environmental toxicants confer susceptibility or resistance to disease. Furthermore, they aim to identify sources of individuality in disease or fitness outcomes in order to allow for more effective treatment and/or preventative care in a personalized manner.
Dr. Ideraabdullah earned her B.S. in Biology at the Pennsylvania State University and her Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology at UNC-CH. Her dissertation focused on measuring the extent and distribution of naturally occurring genetic variation among inbred mouse strains while utilizing such genetic variation to map and characterize loci involved in the complex embryonic lethal phenotype the DDK syndrome and meiotic drive at Om. Her prolific contributions as a graduate student earned her a Sarah Graham Kenan/ Edwards-Hobgood Dissertation Fellowship. She continued her training as a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania where she was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to characterize epigenetic imprinting mechanisms at the H19/Igf2 locus. Her research studying mouse models of the human imprinting overgrowth disorder, Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, and the growth restriction disorder, Silver-Russell Syndrome, elucidated novel mechanisms of tissue-specific imprinted gene expression regulation.
Upon recognizing the importance of environmental effects in epigenetic perturbation, Dr. Ideraabdullah began an environmental study that took into account potential human exposures in her genetic mouse models. In 2008, she was awarded a Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Mentored Scientist Transition award to examine the role of genetic mutations at imprinted loci in susceptibility to epigenetic response to the endocrine disrupting compound (EDC) vinclozolin. Preliminary data from this ongoing study suggests a role for DNA sequence differences in epigenetic response to exogenous stimuli.
As a result of a growing body of work demonstrating the role of nutrition in determining epigenetic states in human and animal models, Dr. Ideraabdullah enthusiastically joined the NRI to expand her exciting research program to study the role of methyl donor nutrients such as folate, choline, betaine and Vitamin B12, in determining epigenetic states during development. She will focus specifically on critical windows of susceptibility during germ cell and early embryonic development when epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation are normally being reset genome-wide.
Dr. Ideraabdullah is excited to be a part of the NRI team, a richly diverse research group with a common commitment to personalized nutritional solutions.
Current Research Staff: