Unrelated Diseases Can Share Common Underlying Genetic Factors

A recent study by NRI researcher Saroja Voruganti and her laboratory highlights the value of genome-wide analysis and underscores the reality that seemingly unrelated diseases often share common, underlying factors. In their recent publication (Chittoor et al., 2016) the researchers identified two genes,  ITPR1 and  CNTN4, as potential mediators of uric acid concentration. Notably, neither of these genes shows an obvious connection to uric acid, but they have been linked to autism and other neurological disorders.
The Voruganti laboratory is interested in the metabolic processes that lead from nutrients to their end products, specifically uric acid. Hyperuricemia, or elevated levels of serum uric acid (SUA), is linked to diseases including gout, hypertension, and additional cardiometabolic diseases. Hypouricemia, in contrast, has been associated with risk for MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
[read more about genome-wide assocation studies.]


Murdock-NCRC Seed Funding Voucher Program

Two NRI investigators are among six recipients of recent seed-funding vouchers awarded by the Duke University MURDOCK Study, a research partner of the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis. Saroja Voruganti, PhD, and Manya Warrier, PhD, each received $10,000 to help pay for the services and capabilities of the David H. Murdock Research Institute, located on the NCRC, which offers scientific expertise and advanced instrumentation to collaborators focused on transforming science at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture.
The six $10,000 vouchers, part of the competitive MURDOCK-NCRC Seed Funding Voucher Program, have been awarded to these recipients:

  • Saroja Voruganti, PhD, UNC Nutrition Research Institute “A pilot study to identify polymorphisms associated with hyperuricemia risk”
  • Manya Warrier, PhD, UNC Nutrition Research Institute “Association of betaine and plasma metabolites in obesity and diabetes”
  • Kevin Knagge, PhD, David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) “Exhaled breath analysis for identification of high-risk smokers in lung cancer screening population”
  • Nowlan Freese, PhD, UNC-Charlotte “Role of alternative splicing and methylation in salinity tolerance of rice”
  • Renaud Warin, PhD, and Jennifer McBride, NC A&T University “Modulation of natural killer cells chemopreventative properties by dietary isothiocyanates”
  • Mary Ann Lila, PhD, and Renee Strauch, PhD, NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), “Identification of fruit-derived polyphenolic metabolites in human plasma”

A half-day symposium will be planned for funded investigators to present and display their work.

Appetite for Life

Appetite for Life returns this fall. Learn about cutting-edge research taking place at the Nurtrition Research Institute. Our speakers, experts in their fields, present programs to help you understand what targeted nutrition is and how we are using advanced methods of research to investigate it for your improved healthcare. Mark your calendars today!

  • September 13, 6 PM, at Restaurant 46 in Kannapolis
  • October 18, 6 PM, at Restaurant 46 in Kannapolis
  • November 15, 6 PM, at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte

Registration for September’s presentation will open August 15. Check our website for details. 

Blueberry Chocolate Bark

Designed by: Aubrey Mast, Extension Associate for Nutrition, NC State University, Plants for Human Health Institute.

  • 1 cup chocolate greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Pour into a cake pan. Put in the freezer until frozen (about an hour).
  3. Cut into bars. Wrap individually to store.

Nutrition Facts
North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute have shown blueberries to have the ability to address gut inflammation by aiding good gut bacteria. [read more]