Saroja Voruganti, PhD

Associate Professor, Nutrition
Genetic and environmental influences on disease risk

Saroja Voruganti, PhD, joined the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in 2013 as assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, UNC-Chapel Hill. In August 2019 she was appointed associate professor of nutrition. 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.

Dr. Voruganti earned her B.Sc. degree with honors in Foods and Nutrition at The University of Delhi, India, and a post-graduate diploma in Dietetics and Hospital Food Service. She received a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and did post-doctoral work in Genetic Epidemiology at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.

She has conducted several studies involving minority populations such as Mexican Americans, American Indians, Western Alaska Natives and Hispanic children. Her focus in all these studies is to understand genetic and environmental influences on renal-cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr. Voruganti has published or has in press more than 75 scholarly papers and has authored chapters in two books: Handbook of Anthropometry: Physical Measures of Human Form in Health and Disease and Human Variation: From the Laboratory to the Field.



 Research Team


Brea Correll : <h4>Research Assistant, Voruganti Lab</h4>

Brea Correll

Research Assistant, Voruganti Lab

Brea received her Associate’s in Applied Science in Biotechnology at RCCC. She was an intern for the Voruganti lab from May 2017 until being hired July 2017. Brea’s focus is helping to recruit for studies and helping manage the Nutritional Genomics and Microbiome Core, as well as, lab work. She also learned and became certified in phlebotomy while working at NRI. Brea is from Advance, NC and when she is not at work, she enjoys time with her family, dogs, fishing, and going to the beach.

Baba Mass : <h4>Research Technician, Voruganti Lab</h4>

Baba Mass

Research Technician, Voruganti Lab

Baba graduated from Gambia College School of Education with an AS in science and mathematics. He taught Junior Secondary School science for three years before migrating to the U.S. to pursue higher education. Baba joined the Voruganti lab as a student intern from RCCC before officially joining the team as research technician in July 2015.

Kendra Lynn Nelson, MPH : <h4>Graduate Student, Voruganti Lab</h4>

Kendra Lynn Nelson, MPH

Graduate Student, Voruganti Lab
(704) 250-5060

Kendra received her undergraduate degree in Nutrition from Southern Utah University and worked as a sanitarian prior to attending UNC. She completed her MPH/RD program at UNC-Chapel Hill in December 2019, while working in Dr. Voruganti's lab at the NRI. Her prior research focused on the accuracy of consumer fitness trackers and their value as an assessment tool in dietetics practice and future nutrition research.

Chinmayee Panda, PhD : <h4>Postdoctoral Research Associate, Voruganti Lab</h4>

Chinmayee Panda, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Voruganti Lab

Dr. Chinmayee Panda is passionate about research that benefits human health. She earned her PhD in Plant Biology from NCSU in August 2017, with a focus in genetics and molecular biology. She joined NRI thereafter as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Voruganti Lab to investigate the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in influencing renal-cardiovascular disease risk. She is currently involved in a project that aims to characterize the nutrigenetic and nutrigenomic determinants of obesity and related comorbidities in children. She also hopes to characterize key phenotypes and environmental factors that increase susceptibility to metabolic diseases in genetically isolated population like Parsis in North America. In her spare time, she dabbles in food photography and blogging. She enjoys travelling with her husband.

Valentina Talevi : <h4>Data Analyst, Voruganti Lab</h4>

Valentina Talevi

Data Analyst, Voruganti Lab
(704) 250-5060

Valentina Talevi received her M.S. in Bioinformatics at UNC Charlotte. She is working as a research technician in the Vorugati Lab. Her previous research focused on the identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms that potentially could increase the susceptibility of oral diseases in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. She enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.