Blake Rushing, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Sumner Lab

Blake Rushing, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Nutrition Research Institute (NRI). Dr. Rushing is trained in pharmacology and toxicology, and has experience using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance, in vitro model systems, and various biochemical assays to study the interactions between small molecule toxins/drugs with macromolecular targets such as proteins and DNA. He is well versed in using analytical instrumentation to study metabolic products of exogenous small molecule agents and their biological effects. Dr. Rushing earned a BS in Chemistry from Catawba College, and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2018 from East Carolina University. Dr. Rushing conducts research as a member of the Metabolomics and Exposome Laboratory in the Sumner Lab at NRI, and he is an investigator in the NIEHS-funded Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) program. In these roles, he has determined metabolomic signatures and pathway perturbations associated with human disease (e.g., osteoarthritis), nutrient deficiencies in wild type and knockout animal models (e.g., folate), and cellular response to anti-cancer agents.  Dr. Rushing’s career interests lie in using omics techniques to study how nutrients and other compounds from the diet can be used to enhance the efficacy of drugs or mitigate against their adverse effects.

In the News

2023/24 Pilot and Feasibility Award Winners at NRI

The UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) offers annual pilot and feasibility awards to support the development of innovative research in nutrition and obesity at UNC-Chapel Hill. P&F awards enable researchers to collect preliminary data that support a...

NRI Trainees Climbing the Ladder of Success

A core objective of the NRI is to provide training opportunities to the next generation of researchers in precision nutrition, including graduate and undergraduate students. These young researchers, selected from the tops of their classes, are mentored by the NRI’s...


Publications 2023

Rushing BR. Multi-omics analysis of NCI-60 cell line data reveals novel metabolic processes linked with resistance to alkylating anti-cancer agents. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2023. Under Review 

Rushing BR, Thessen AE, Soliman G, Armandla R, Sumner S. The exposome and nutritional pharmacology and toxicology. Exposome. 2023. Under Review 

Rajasekar AK, Miller GM, Motsinger-Reif A, Cui Y, Walker D, Makris K, Jarmusch A, Rushing BR, Juarez P, Hood D, Ramesh A, Mouton C, Soliman G, Chung MK. Establishing a Community of Practice for Exposomics. Exposome. 2023. Under Review 

Rushing BR, Molina S, Sumner S. Untargeted metabolomics reveals mechanisms of acquired doxorubicin resistance in triple-negative breast cancer cells. Metabolites. 2023. 13(7), 865. 

Lynch DH, Rushing BR, Pathmasiri W, McRitchie S, Batchek DJ, Petersen CL, Gross S, Sumner S, Batsis J. Baseline Serum Biomarkers Predict Response to a Weight Loss Intervention in Older Adults with Obesity: A Pilot Study. Metabolites. 2023. 13(7), 853. 

Authors contributed equally to this work 

Emily MJ Fennell*, Lucas J Aponte-Collazo, Wimal Pathmasiri, Blake R Rushing, Natalie K Barker, Megan C Partridge, Yuan-Yuan Li, Yoshimi Endo Greer, Laura E Herring, Stan Lipkowitz, Susan Jenkins Sumner, Edwin J Iwanowicz, Lee M Graves. Multi-omics Analyses Reveal ClpP Activators Disrupt Essential Mitochondrial Pathways in Triple-negative Breast Cancer. Frontiers Pharmacology. 2023. 14:1136317. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2023.1136317.  

Taibli KR, Dunlop AL, Barr DB, Li Y, Eick S, Kannan K, Ryan PB, Schroder M, Rushing BR, Fennell T, Chang C, Tan Y, Marsit C, Jones DP, Liang D. Newborn Metabolomic Signatures of Maternal Serum Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Levels and Reduced Length of Gestation: A Prospective Analysis in the Atlanta African American Maternal-Child Cohort. Nature Communications. 14(1):3120. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-38710-3. 

Rushing BR, Wiggs A*, Molina S, Schroder M, Sumner S. Metabolomics analysis reveals novel targets of chemosensitizing polyphenols and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in triple negative breast cancer cells. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2023,24(5):4406. 

Publications 2022

Rushing BR, Fogle HM, Sharma J, You M, McCormac JP, Molina S, Sumner S, Krupenko NI, Krupenko SA. Exploratory Metabolomics Underscores the Folate Enzyme ALDH1L1 as a Regulator of Glycine and Methylation Reactions. Molecules. 2022 Dec 1;27(23):8394. doi: 10.3390/molecules27238394. PMID: 36500483; PMCID: PMC9740053. 

Rushing, B.R.; Tilley, S.*; Molina, S.; Schroder, M.; Sumner, S. Commonalities in Metabolic Reprogramming between Tobacco Use and Oral Cancer. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 10261. 

Authors contributed equally to this work 

Strom S, McDonald S, Remchak M, Kew K, Rushing BR, Houmard J, Tulis D, Pawlak R, Kelley G, Chasan-Taber, Newton E, Isler C, DeVente J, Raper M, May L. 2022. Maternal Aerobic Exercise, But Not Blood DHA, and EPA Concentrations, Influence Infant Body Composition. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8293; 

Sharma J, Rushing BR, Hall M, Helke K, McRitchie S, Krupenko N, Sumner S, Krupenko S. 2022. Sex-specific metabolic effects of dietary folate withdrawal in wild type and Aldh1l1 knockout mice. Metabolites. 12(5):454. doi: 10.3390/metabo12050454 

Authors contributed equally to this work 

Wiggs A*, Molina S, Sumner S, Rushing BR. 2022. A Review of Metabolic Targets of Anticancer Nutrients and Nutraceuticals in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Nutrients. 2022 May 10;14(10):1990. doi: 10.3390/nu14101990. 

Strom, C.J.; McDonald, S.M.; Remchak, M.-M.; Kew, K.A.; Rushing, B.R.; Houmard, J.A.; Tulis, D.A.; Pawlak, R.; Kelley, G.A.; Chasan-Taber, L.; Newton, E.; Isler, C.; DeVente, J.; Raper, M.; May, L.E. 2022. The Influence of Maternal Aerobic Exercise, Blood DHA and EPA Concentrations on Maternal Lipid Profiles. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 19, 3550. 

Rushing, B.R.; Schroder, M.; Sumner, S.C.J. Comparison of Lysis and Detachment Sample Preparation Methods for Cultured Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells Using UHPLC–HRMS-Based Metabolomics. Metabolites 2022, 12, 168. 

Murphy, Molly J.*, Rushing, Blake R., Sumner, Susan J., & Hackney. Anthony C. 2022. Dietary Supplements for Athletic Performance in Women: Beta-Alanine, Caffeine, and Nitrate. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Advance online publication. Selected for issue’s featured Open Access article. 

Walters DM, Al-Khulafi NM, Rushing BR, Selim MI. 2022. Respiratory and cardiovascular effects of ambient particulate matter from dust storm and non-dust storm periods in Kuwait. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. 19, 1071-1074. 

Li S, Li Y, Rushing BR, Harris SE, McRitchie SL, Jones JC, Dominguez D, Sumner SJ, Dohlman HG. 2022. Multi-omics analysis of multiple glucose-sensing receptor systems in yeast. Biomolecules. 12(2). 175. 

Li YY, Rushing BR, Schroder M, Sumner S, Kay CD. 2022. Exploring the Contribution of (Poly)phenols to the Dietary Exposome using High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Untargeted Metabolomics. Mol Nutr Food Res. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.202100922.  

Authors contributed equally to this work