Speakers
Dr. Claude Bouchard

Keynote Speaker: Tom Brenna, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics 
Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin

The 2020 keynote speaker will be Tom Brenna, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School. His group’s basic research into the chemical, biochemical, metabolic, genetic and ecological aspects of fatty acids have had a decisive influence on modern knowledge of these key nutrients. Brenna’s research couples nutrition and chemistry in a broadly interdisciplinary program. His research group has been funded by institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Eye Institute, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) since 1992.

Brian Bennett, PhD
Research Leader, Obesity and Metabolism Research
US Department of Agriculture

Dr. Bennett researches genetic susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and obesity and investigates the effects of diet on these metabolic diseases. His work has helped identify new indicators of disease such as trimethylamine N-oxide’s (TMAO) association with cardiovascular disease. Dr. Bennett’s studies regarding TMAO have stimulated his current interest in understanding how the gut microbiome affects cardiovascular disease.

Cory Brouwer, PhD
Director of the Bioinformatics Services Division and
Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte 

UNC Charlotte

Dr. Brouwer is Director of the Bioinformatics Services Division and Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte. He and his team provide a wide range of bioinformatics and computational biology services to the NCRC, UNC Charlotte and surrounding area life sciences community. Some recent projects have involved de novo assembly of genomes and transcriptomes using next generation sequencing, clinical association studies and comparative genomics.

Carol Cheatham, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Cheatham’s research focuses on the relationship between an individual’s genome and the metabolism of nutrients, and how this leads to differences in cognitive and social development. She is interested in the development of memory and attention as they are the basis for learning, and therefore school readiness.

Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH
Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Hursting is interested in diet-gene interactions relevant to cancer prevention, particularly the molecular and hormonal mechanisms underlying energy balance-cancer associations.

Folami Ideraabdullah, PhD
Assistant Professor, Genetics
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Ideraabdullah has a primary appointment in the UNC Department of Genetics and joined the NRI to expand her research program in genetics to study the role of dietary nutrients such as folate, choline, betaine, and Vitamin B12 in determining disease susceptibility. She investigates which genetic differences between individuals determine how the cells of our body respond to changes in diet and, not only how these cellular responses may increase the risk of disease in the individual, but also how such responses may be inherited by their children.

Martin Kohlmeier, MD, PhD
Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Kohlmeier’s research on precision nutrition explores individual metabolic responses to food and nutrient intakes and the health consequences for people with different responses. He uses innovative information technologies and algorithms to read the body’s DNA blueprint down to very fine details, translate these readings into practical decisions for better health, and help individuals safely navigate personal food choices.

Natalia Krupenko, PhD
Assistant Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Krupenko’s research is focused on the role of folate (vitamin B9) in promoting health and preventing disease in humans. Folate deficiency has been connected with increased risk for neural tube defects, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Katie Meyer, ScD
Research Assistant Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Meyer is a nutritional and cardiovascular disease epidemiologist. Her research focuses on diet-related health behaviors and nutritional risk factors for cardiometabolic disease.  She is a recipient of a Research Scientist Development Award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the gut microbiota, nutrient metabolites, and cardiovascular disease in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.

Kari North, PhD
Professor
UNC Department of Epidemiology

Dr. North is a professor of epidemiology in the UNC Department of Epidemiology and has developed a strong multidisciplinary research program evaluating the genetic epidemiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated risk factors. 

Dr. North leads the UNC Department of Epidemiology’s CVD Genetic Epidemiology Computational Laboratory, a collaborative assembly of faculty members, pre- and post-doctoral fellows, and staff members spanning UNC departments with collective expertise in both family- and population-based genetic epidemiological research.

At the national level, Dr. North currently serves as a permanent member on the CASE-EPIC Panel A study section, is an editorial board member of multiple prominent journals and serves in several elected leadership roles in The Obesity Society and in the American Heart Association Epidemiology Council. 

At UNC, Dr. North has been engaged with several interdisciplinary centers that foster collaborative research in genetics.

Susan Smith, PhD
Professor of Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Susan Smith, Deputy Director for Science, joined the NRI in July 2016 after a long career as Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her PhD in biochemistry from UW-Madison and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in developmental biology. Her research investigates how genes and dietary factors interact to direct fetal outcome in alcohol-exposed pregnancies, and her work uses both animal models and clinical populations. Her work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, where she was a MERIT recipient and currently sits on the NIAAA Advisory Council.

 

Susan Sumner, PhD
Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Sumner is working to make precision nutrition a reality, through the study of metabolic individuality. Using metabolomics, the unique chemical fingerprints that cellular processes leave behind, Sumner assesses differences in the metabotype of individuals that correlate with states of wellness, disease, or responsivity to treatment or intervention. Her studies in metabolic individuality span areas of maternal and child health, reproductive and developmental biology, obesity, liver injury, kidney disease, and infectious disease.

Saroja Voruganti, PhD
Assistant Professor, Nutrition
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Voruganti’s research investigates how genetic and environmental (particularly diet and nutrients) factors impact hyperuricemia, gout, kidney and cardiovascular disease, with the goal of finding new treatment options.

Tim Wiltshire, PhD
Director, Associate Professor
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Dr. Wiltshire’s current research focus centers on preclinical pharmacogenetics and translational clinical pharmacogenetics. He is an associate professor in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics and Director of the UNC Center for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy. He also holds adjunct faculty positions in the Department of Genetics of the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and is actively involved with multiple collaborations with other institutions.

Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD
Director
UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Dr. Zeisel’s passion for the science of nutrition is evident throughout his distinguished career.  He initially attended medical school at Harvard and completed his residency in pediatrics at Yale- New Haven Hospital. He earned his PhD in Nutrition from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979. A world-renowned scientist, Zeisel is credited with the discovery of choline’s role as an essential nutrient, particularly for women during pregnancy. His studies on choline were the first to create an understanding of the nutrient’s critical role in brain development of infants. His research led the field of nutrition to establish the significance of this essential nutrient for brain development and outline the far-reaching implications for pregnant mothers.