The UNC Nutrition Research Institute announces a recent award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that will improve our knowledge of the complex interactions between environmental exposures throughout the lifespan and human health outcomes. This grant brings together a partnership of academic research groups located on the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), and RTI International, a nonprofit research organization located in the Research Triangle Park.
Susan Sumner, PhD (UNC-Chapel Hill), Timothy Fennell, PhD (RTI), and Xiuxia Du, PhD (UNC Charlotte) will serve as multiple Principal Investigators (MPIs) to lead the North Carolina Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource Untargeted Analysis Laboratory (NC HHEAR UAL).
These MPIs and their teams will bring the resources of untargeted analysis to detect tens of thousands of signals in human biospecimens that arise from our naturally occurring endogenous metabolites, and from exposures to chemicals, medications, illicit drugs, and ingested foods. Using big data analytics, this team will determine the links between exposures, perturbations in our endogenous metabolism, and health endpoints. Sumner, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Nutrition emphasizes that exposome research is key to informing precision nutrition through understanding how exposures and perturbations in endogenous metabolism are linked to states of health and wellness. Her laboratory uses state-of-the-art technologies to determine the molecules that are present in our tissues and biological fluids. Through this approach, biomarkers are discovered that can lead to new diagnostics for the early detection and diagnosis of disease, to monitor treatment and intervention, and to reveal metabolic perturbations that inform the development of intervention strategies. Sumner’s laboratory is part of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute on the NCRC in Kannapolis.