Saroja Voruganti, Ph.D., joined the UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) in 2013 as assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, UNC-Chapel Hill. 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 Ph.D. 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.
Voruganti’s Research Team
Graduate Research Assistant, Hursting and Voruganti Labs
Angela joined the NRI in August 2022 after graduating from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, in May 2022 with a Master of Science in Nutrition. Her master’s degree focused on dietetics to become a future registered dietitian. Before completing her graduate studies, Angela gained 20 years of research experience in the pharmaceutical industry by managing first-in-class and first-in-human clinical trials, especially in immuno-oncology therapies. Angela is co-mentored at NRI by Dr. Hursting Dr. Voruganti where her focus is to expand nutrition research into human clinical trials and focus on identifying nutritional and genetic factors that can aid in early disease detection and using the mechanisms of metabolomics for adjuvant therapy in cancer treatment.
Lydia Goss Dooley, RD
Graduate Student, Voruganti Lab
Lydia joined the NRI with Dr. Voruganti’s lab in August 2022 and is looking forward to contributing to the body of knowledge in the field of nutrition. Lydia graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Nutrition in 2017. She completed a Dietetic Internship with Lenoir-Rhyne University and earned her RD credential in the summer of 2019. Lydia worked as a clinical dietitian while pursuing her MS in Nutrition, graduating from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2021. In her spare time, Lydia enjoys spending time with her husband and dog in the great outdoors.
Emilio Salazar Garduno
Clinical Research Coordinator, Voruganti Lab
Emilio graduated from UNC Charlotte with a BA in Biology in 2023. He has worked as a phlebotomist for two years. He passionate about bridging healthcare gaps and expanding medical access to underrepresented communities (sexual/ethnic minorities). He also an advocate and promoter of higher education. He volunteers for RAO Community Health in Charlotte, NC (a non-profit committed to providing support and prevention services for those living with HIV) and the Rowan County Literacy Council (works to enhance literacy and life skills of adults, youth, and families). He hopes to become a PA, interested in the fields of infectious diseases, internal medicine, and dermatology. In his free time, I enjoy, running, traveling, and trying new foods!
Graduate Student, Voruganti Lab
Faustina hails from south India. She completed her BS, in plant biotechnology from Stella Maris College in Chennai, India and her MS in biotechnology from Sathyabama University in Chennai, India. She eventually moved to US for her husband’s job and joined Rowan Cabarrus Community College to find a door that would lead to a career in research. She joined the Voruganti lab as an intern from RCCC in January 2019 and is now a PhD candidate in the same lab. Faustina is excited to be a part of NRI and the remarkable research that is happening here. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the beaches and mountains of the Carolinas with her husband and kids.
Research Technician, Voruganti Lab
Ketan went to school at East Carolina University, but grew up nearby in Concord, NC. He majored in Neuroscience and has previously worked in microbiology labs at ECU’s Dental School. Ketan wants to pursue a career in academia and perhaps pharmaceuticals. He loves working in labs and in his time at NRI he hopes to pick up new techniques and expand his repertoire. In the near future, he also hopes to learn more about genetic data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the cognitive processes that power them. In his free time, Ketan enjoys exploring Charlotte, which he describes as a vibrant city.
Research Specialist, 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, RD
Graduate Student, Voruganti Lab
Kendra joined the Voruganti Lab at the NRI in August 2019 where they focus on the role of nutrition and genetics in obesity and cognitive decline. In May 2016 they received their undergraduate degree in Nutrition from Southern Utah University. There they conducted research focusing on the accuracy of consumer fitness trackers and their value as an assessment tool in dietetics practice and future nutrition research. Kendra worked as a public health sanitarian prior to attending UNC's MPH/RD program from which they graduated in December 2019, earning their registered dietitian credentials shortly afterward.
Sai Sravani Vennam
Research Associate, Voruganti Lab
Sai Sravani Vennam is from the southern part of India. She joined the Voruganti Lab in March 2023. She completed her master's degree in bioinformatics and genomics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which has provided her with a deep understanding of biological systems and their complexities. She is currently working as a Research Associate in the Voruganti Lab at NRI, where she is able to put her knowledge into practice. Her work involves utilizing computational tools and techniques to analyze and interpret complex biological data, with a focus on understanding disease mechanisms and developing innovative treatment strategies. She describes herself as a committed and passionate professional who is determined to enhance the fields of bioinformatics and genomics through cutting-edge research and innovative concepts.