Saroja Voruganti, PhD
Director of Human Research Core Lab, Associate Professor of Nutrition
Dr. Saroja Voruganti, Associate Professor of Nutrition, is working on building a nationally and internationally recognized research program in nutritional genomics at UNC. A unique field, nutritional genomics seeks to identify genetic susceptibility to diseases, effect of genetic variation on nutrient metabolism and the effect of nutrients on gene expression. She has extensively investigated the interplay between nutritional and genetic factors influencing disease risk in ethnically diverse populations, especially minority populations such as Mexican American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Parsi Zoroastrian and Hispanic children populations. Her research is focused on uncovering new connections between genetics, nutrition, and epidemiology that can lead to more accurate determination disease risk and new treatment options for metabolic diseases. The key areas of her research program include:
- Gene-nutrient interactions affecting purine metabolism and related neurodegenerative diseases
- Genetic and environmental factors affecting complex diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes in ethnically diverse populations
Lauren Roppolo Brazell
Data Analyst, Voruganti Lab
Lauren joined the NRI in March 2020 as a data analyst in the Voruganti Lab. She has recently completed her Master of Science degree in Bioinformatics and Genomics, and will begin her Ph.D. in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics this fall. She is assisting the Voruganti Lab group with data analysis for the Viva La Familia study at NRI, and she is also working on an urban microbial metagenomics study at UNCC. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with family, friends, and traveling.
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.
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 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, 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
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.
Her childhood in India – and parenthood – changed this nutrition expert’s eating habits
This story originally appeared on the American Heart Association News website. These days, Saroja Voruganti, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prefers a balanced diet that emphasizes "whole" foods and steers clear...
UNC-Chapel Hill Nutrition Students Visit NRI
On Friday, February 3, 50 nutrition students from UNC-Chapel Hill came to the UNC Nutrition Research Institute with their professor, Amanda Holliday, to practice nutrition assessment techniques in a new setting and learn more about nutrition from a research...
The Optimistic Nutritionist
By Alyssa LaFaro Endeavors Saroja Voruganti likes sugar. But she loves talking about it. “Did you know the body does not need any added sugars for healthy functioning? Most of our foods contain naturally occurring sugars,” she says. Men should consume no more...
Voruganti Nutritional Genomics Laboratory at UNC Nutrition Research Institute receives CLIA certification for its genotyping services
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – September 2, 2022 – The UNC Nutrition Research Institute is pleased to announce that its laboratory directed by Saroja Voruganti, PhD, has been granted a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification, allowing its lab to conduct...
Fine mapping and identification of serum urate loci in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.
Heterogeneity in Metabolic Responses to Dietary Fructose.
Genetic analysis of hsCRP in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.
A trans-ancestral meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies reveals loci associated with childhood obesity.
Healthy dietary patterns and risk and survival of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.
Duodenal adipose tissue is associated with obesity in baboons (Papio sp): a novel site of ectopic fat deposition in non-human primates.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Genome-Wide Interaction Analyses Reveal DPP10-Pulmonary Function Association.
Nutritional Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease.
Genetic determinants of BMI from early childhood to adolescence: the Santiago Longitudinal Study.
Genetic Variants Related to Cardiometabolic Traits Are Associated to B Cell Function, Insulin Resistance, and Diabetes Among AmeriCan Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study.
Meta-analysis across Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium provides evidence for an association of serum vitamin D with pulmonary function.
Serum Lipid Concentrations and FADS Genetic Variants in Young Mexican College Students: The UP-AMIGOS Cohort Study.
Arsenic-gene interactions and beta-cell function in the Strong Heart Family Study.
Diet-induced early-stage atherosclerosis in baboons: Lipoproteins, atherogenesis, and arterial compliance.
Exome sequencing reveals novel genetic loci influencing obesity-related traits in Hispanic children.
Changes in Cerebral Blood Flow during an Alteration in Glycemic State in a Large Non-human Primate (Papio hamadryas sp.).
Genetic variation underlying renal uric acid excretion in Hispanic children: the Viva La Familia Study.