Susan J. Sumner, PhD

Professor of Nutrition and Pharmacology

Susan Sumner, PhD is a Professor of Nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill’s Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), and the Director of the Metabolomics and Exposome Laboratory (MEL) at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Sumner is working to make personalized medicine and precision nutrition a reality.  Using state-of-the-art metabolomics and exposome technologies, Dr. Sumner’s team determines how molecules that are present in our tissues and biological fluids are associated with states of health and wellness. 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 inform the development of intervention strategies.   

The Sumner-Lab uses analytical methods to detect tens of thousands of signals for molecules that are present in biological specimens (such as urine, serum, plasma, feces, sweat, tissues, and cells). Using untargeted metabolomics, signals are detected for metabolites that are derived from endogenous metabolic process, such as neurotransmitters, hormones and steroids, sugars, amino acids, purines and pyrimidines, lipids, fatty acids, and vitamins and essential nutrients. Signals are also detected for metabolites derived from a wide range of exposures, including metabolites derived from ingestion of foods, intake of medications or drugs of abuse, and environmentally relevant

 

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chemicals. Natural occurring chemicals found in foods (e.g., folate, choline) and beverages (e.g., polyphenols, benzoate) have been associated with both positive and negative health responses. Perturbations in endogenous metabolism have been associated with many prescribed and over the counter medications, as well as illicit drugs. Metabolites of many environmentally relevant chemicals are also detected (including  phthalates, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, parabens, brominated flame retardants, tobacco products, phenols, and volatile organic compounds) which have been linked with a variety of adverse health outcomes – including obesity, cognitive delay and decline, reproductive effects, and cancer. 

Dr. Sumner’s research activities in Personalized Medicine and Precision Nutrition span several domain areas of Maternal and Child Health, Diabetes and Kidney Disease, Toxicology, Cancer, Microbiome, and Addiction. In 2019, she received a grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to discover biomarkers and mechanisms associated with Cardiovascular Disease. She has served as the PI of a grant funded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to use metabolomics to reveal noninvasive markers of drug-induced liver injury, and as PI of the NIH Common Fund Eastern Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Core (ERCMRC). She currently directs the Metabolomics Core for the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Obesity Resource Center (NORC, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIDDK), and an Exposome Core for the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) program (funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, NIEHS).

In August of 2019, Dr. Sumner received a grant to develop new tools and conduct untargeted analysis for the NIEHS-funded Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR) Program. Under this grant, untargeted analysis will be used to study the complex interactions between environmental exposures throughout the lifespan and human health outcomes. 

Dr. Sumner earned a B.S. and Ph.D. in the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina State University, and conducted postdoctoral research at NHLBI.

 

Sumner’s Team

Rachel Coble

Rachel Coble

Research Technician

rachel_coble@unc.edu
704-250-5067

Wimal Pathmasiri, PhD

Wimal Pathmasiri, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nutrition

wimal_pathmasiri@unc.edu
704-250-5069

 
Delisha Stewart, PhD

Delisha Stewart, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nutrition

delisha_stewart@unc.edu
704-250-5068

David Kirchner, MS

David Kirchner, MS

Research Associate

david_kirchner@unc.edu
(704) 250-5037

Yunzhi "Grace" Qian

Yunzhi "Grace" Qian

Doctoral Student

yunzhi.qian@unc.edu
(704) 250-5037

Spencer Tilley

Spencer Tilley

BSPH Student Intern, UNC Department of Nutrition

spentil@live.unc.edu

Yuan Li, PhD

Yuan Li, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Sumner Lab

yuanyli4@unc.edu
704-250-5069

Blake R. Rushing, PhD

Blake R. Rushing, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Sumner Lab

blake_rushing@unc.edu
704-250-5067

Alleigh Wiggs

Alleigh Wiggs

BSPH Student Intern, UNC Department of Nutrition

alleigh@live.unc.ed

Susan McRitchie, MA, MS

Susan McRitchie, MA, MS

Program Coordinator

susan_mcritchie@unc.edu
704-250-5067

Madison Schroder

Madison Schroder

Research Technician

madison_schroder@unc.edu
704-250-5067

The North Carolina Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource Hub (NC HHEAR Hub)

Metabolomics and Exposome Laboratory (MEL) for the following NIH Centers

Nutritional Pharmacology/Toxicology

Choline and Related Metabolites in Nutrition Research

Recent Grants Supported by the Metabolomics and Exposome Laboratory (MEL)

R01HL143885 (Sumner, MPI, UNC-CH): 2019–2023
NHLBI
Leveraging multi-omics approaches to examine metabolic challenges of obesity in relation to cardiovascular diseases.

1U01CA235507 (Du, PI, UNC-Charlotte): 2018–2022                         
NCI                                                                                                                                          
Cross-Platform and Graphical Software Tool for Adaptive LC/MS and GC/MS Metabolomics Data Preprocessing

1R37CA226969-01 (Bae-Jump, PI, UNC-CH): 2018–2023                           
NCI                                                                                                                                          
Obesity-driven Metabolic and Molecular Biomarkers of Metformin Response in Endometrial Cancer

1R21CA235029-01 (Smith-Ryan & Bae-Jump, MPI, UNC Chapel Hill): 2019–2020                   
NCI
Interval Exercise Training as a Therapy for Endometrial Cancer

1U01OH011300-01A1 (Nolan, PI, NYUSOM): 2017– 2023                            
NIOSH
Metabolomics of World Trade Center-Lung Injury

1R01DK115380-01 (Zeisel, PI, UNC Chapel Hill): 2017- 2021
NIDDK
Developing a Biomarker Panel to Assess Choline Nutritional Status

U01ES027254 (Sumner, MPI, UNC Chapel Hill): 2016–2021                       
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Early-life END exposure and the impact on neurobehavioral, cardiovascular, and biochemical mechanisms.

5UG3OD023275 (Karagas, PI, Dartmouth College): 2016-2023        
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Environmental Influences of Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Pediatrics Cohort
New Hampshire Birth Cohort

5UG3OD023305 (Trasande, PI, NYU School of Medicine): 2016-2023      
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences                                       
Environmental Influences of Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Pediatrics Cohort
NYU Pediatric Obesity, Metabolism and Kidney Cohort Center 

R01DK110077 (Smoyer, PI, Nationwide Children’s Hospital)   2017-2022  
NIDDK
Integrating Proteomics and Metabolomics to Understand Pediatric Glomerular Disease

1R21HD087878-01A1 (Harville, PI, Tulane): 2017-2019
NICHD
Preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, and the exposome

Publications

2021

Association of Increased Serum Lipopolysaccharide but not Microbial Dysbiosis with Obesity-related Osteoarthritis

Knockout of putative tumor suppressor Aldh1l1 in mice reprograms metabolism to accelerate growth of tumors in a diethylnitrosamine (DEN) model of liver carcinogenesis

Multi-omics analysis of glucose-mediated signaling by a moonlighting Gβ protein Asc1/RACK1

Metabolic Response of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer to Folate Restriction

Information enhanced model selection for Gaussian graphical model with application to metabolomic data

The role of gut microbial community and metabolomic shifts in adaptive resistance of Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Untargeted analysis of first trimester serum to reveal biomarkers of pregnancy complications: a case-control discovery phase study

Metabolomics reveals biomarkers of opioid use disorder

Existing antiviral options against SARS-CoV-2 replication in COVID-19 patients

2020

Untargeted Metabolomics: Biochemical Perturbations in Golestan Cohort Study Opium Users Inform Intervention Strategies

Aldh1/2 knockout mouse metabolomics links the loss of mitochondrial folate enzyme to deregulation of a lipid metabolism observed in rare human disorder.

Serum trace metal association with response to erythropoiesis stimulating agents in incident and prevalent hemodialysis patients.

Biodistribution, Cardiac and Neurobehavioral Assessments, and Neurotransmitter Quantification in Juvenile Rats following Oral Administration of Aluminum Oxide Nanoparticles.

Maternal Liver Metabolic Response to Chronic Vitamin D Deficiency Is Determined by Mouse Strain Genetic Background.

Effects of Aldh1l2 Knockout on the Metabolic Profile of Mouse Liver.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic and its methylated metabolites alters metabolomics profiles in INS-1 832/13 insulinoma cells and isolated pancreatic islets.

Investigation of Twenty Metal, Metal Oxide, and Metal Sulfide Nanoparticles’ Impact on Differentiated Caco-2 Monolayer Integrity.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic and its methylated metabolites alters metabolomics profiles in INS-1 832/13 insulinoma cells and isolated pancreatic islets.

Analysis of NMR Metabolomics Data.

Metabolomics Data Preprocessing Using ADAP and MZmine 2.

Quantitative methods for metabolomic analyses evaluated in the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR).

 

2019

Predicting and Defining Steroid Resistance in Pediatric Nephrotic Syndrome Using Plasma Metabolomics.

Predicting and Defining Steroid Resistance in Pediatric Nephrotic Syndrome Using Plasma Proteomics.

Cytosolic 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase regulates glycine metabolism in mouse liver.

Multi-omics studies in cellular models of methylmalonic acidemia and propionic acidemia reveal dysregulation of serine metabolism.

LC-MS-based metabolomics analysis to identify meprin-β-associated changes in kidney tissue from mice with STZ-induced type 1 diabetes and diabetic kidney injury.

Deleterious mutations in ALDH1L2 suggest a novel cause for neuro-ichthyotic syndrome.

Meprin β metalloproteases associated with differential metabolite profiles in the plasma and urine of mice with type 1 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy.

Health-related quality of life in glomerular disease.

A metabolomics approach to investigate kukoamine B – a potent natural product with anti-diabetic properties.

The impact of early-life sub-therapeutic antibiotic treatment (STAT) on excessive weight is robust despite transfer of intestinal microbes.

Human PAH is characterized by a pattern of lipid-related insulin resistance.

CureGN Study Rationale, Design, and Methods: Establishing a Large Prospective Observational Study of Glomerular Disease.

Metabolomics for Biomarker Discovery and to Derive Genetics Links to Disease.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic and its methylated metabolites alters metabolomics profiles in INS-1 832/13 insulinoma cells and isolated pancreatic islets.

Quantitative methods for metabolic analyses evaluated in the Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR).

Metabolomics to reveal biomarkers and pathways of preterm birth: A systematic review and epidemiologic perspective.

 

 

2018

Stable Isotope-Resolved Metabolomic Differences between Hormone-Responsive and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cell Lines.

Antibiotic-induced acceleration of type 1 diabetes alters maturation of innate intestinal immunity.

Correlated metabolomic, genomic, and histologic phenotypes in histologically normal breast tissue.

Using Metabolomics to Investigate Biomarkers of Drug Addiction.

EDC IMPACT: Molecular effects of developmental FM 550 exposure in Wistar rat placenta and fetal forebrain.

Human microbiota, blood group antigens, and disease.

Effect of endotoxin and alum adjuvant vaccine on peanut allergy.

 

2017

A Microbiomic Analysis in African Americans with Colonic Lesions Reveals Streptococcus sp.VT162 as a Marker of Neoplastic Transformation.

Detailed Investigation and Comparison of the XCMS and MZmine 2 Chromatogram Construction and Chromatographic Peak Detection Methods for Preprocessing Mass Spectrometry Metabolomics Data.

One Step Forward for Reducing False Positive and False Negative Compound Identifications from Mass Spectrometry Metabolomics Data: New Algorithms for Constructing Extracted Ion Chromatograms and Detecting Chromatographic Peaks.

Metabolomics reveal physiological changes in mayfly larvae (Neocloeon triangulifer) at ecological upper thermal limits.

Pretreatment with indomethacin results in increased heat stroke severity during recovery in a rodent model of heat stroke.

Direct and transgenerational effects of low doses of perinatal di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) on social behaviors in mice.

Metabolites as biomarkers of adverse reactions following vaccination: A pilot study using nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics.

Metabolic profiling of a chronic kidney disease cohort reveals metabolic phenotype more likely to benefit from a probiotic.

Neonatal Metabolomic Profiles Related to Prenatal Arsenic Exposure.

Systems biology for organotypic cell cultures.

Serum Metabolomic Profiles in Neonatal Mice following Oral Brominated Flame Retardant Exposures to Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) Alpha, Gamma, and Commercial Mixture.

Disposition of intravenously or orally administered silver nanoparticles in pregnant rats and the effect on the biochemical profile in urine.

Preterm neonatal urinary renal developmental and acute kidney injury metabolomic profiling: an exploratory study.

 

2016

Antibiotic-mediated gut microbiome perturbation accelerates development of type 1 diabetes in mice.

Metabolomics enables precision medicine: “A White Paper, Community Perspective”.

Impact of a western diet on the ovarian and serum metabolome.

Blood type biochemistry and human disease.

Metabolomics Analysis of Hormone-Responsive and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cell Responses to Paclitaxel Identify Key Metabolic Differences.

Maternal Early Pregnancy Serum Metabolomics Profile and Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding as Predictors of Placental Abruption: A Prospective Study.

The Importance of the Biological Impact of Exposure to the Concept of the Exposome.

Microfluidics meets metabolomics to reveal the impact of Campylobacter jejuni infection on biochemical pathways.

Metabolomics Reveals New Mechanisms for Pathogenesis in Barth Syndrome and Introduces Novel Roles for Cardiolipin in Cellular Function.

Metabolomics Workbench: An international repository for metabolomics data and metadata, metabolite standards, protocols, tutorials and training, and analysis tools.

Validation of a Metallomics Analysis of Placenta Tissue by Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry.