Nutrition Research Programs
Research Interests: Molecular mechanisms by which diet modulates host-microbiome interaction, e.g., aryl hydrocarbon signaling cascades and genomic responses in relation to stem cell biology; noninvasive biomarkers using host exfoliomics and gut microbial metagenomics; membrane therapy and proteolipid nanoclustering; dietary interactions, colon cancer and chronic inflammation. Chapkin Laboratory.
Obesity & postmenopausal breast cancer: Studying the relationship between obesity, menopause, weight gain and inflammation, and their combined effects on (1) breast cancer development/progression and (2) metabolic health.
Dr. Johnston’s work involves the application of randomized trial, systematic review, meta-analysis and guideline recommendation methods to a wide range of areas, with particular interests dietary guideline methodology, and in teaching the principles and practice of critical appraisal and evidence-based nutrition. As the director and co-founder of NutriRECS (www.nutrirecs.com), he leads an international consortium of researchers and research trainees aiming to develop high quality, value-added nutritional guideline recommendations on major nutrition, food and dietary pattern questions.
Dr. Sun is a leading scientist in the field of “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which has profound roles in health and disease. Dr. Sun’s group has generated a series of mouse models for ghrelin and the ghrelin receptor, and discovered novel functions of ghrelin signaling in insulin secretion, thermogenesis, inflammation, and aging. The current research in her lab involves several cutting edge interdisciplinary areas, including immuno-metabolism, inflamm-aging, sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and aging lifespan/healthspan. The work of Dr. Sun’s team has great potential to lead to therapies for obesity, diabetes, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Linglin Xie, research has been focused on understanding the molecular basis of obesity and insulin resistance. Her recent study focus is to find out if and how different maternal diet intervention before pregnancy would prevent the downstream offspring. She is also interested in understanding how maternal obesity or diabetes increase the risk of congenital heart defects of the baby.
Dr. Zhang’s long-term goal is to decode genetic events and molecular interactions of biological processes, and rigorously represent the complex molecular behaviors with mathematical models. We use advanced high-throughput technology and robust stochastic models to obtain the systematic picture of a biological process. Multiple types of omics data, such as microarray, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, lipidomics and proteomics are collected through innovative study designs in animals and humans, and are modeled for integrative analysis. Using embryonic mouse as a model system, one of our current focuses is to untangle the spatial and dynamic gene-gene interaction networks during heart development, and illustrate how environmental factors introduce adverse molecular changes and morphological defects. We are also investigating the transgenerational epigenetic variations carried from overweight mother to the offspring, and how the change of lifestyles would prevent childhood obesity.
Food Science & Technology Research Programs
Develop educational strategies targeting nutrition education for medical students and physicians; examine anti-obesity policies targeting childhood obesity; perform school plate waste studies; develop/test anti-obesity food product formulations.
Food Technology, Extrusion Processes, Cereals and Snacks food extrusion, Oil Seed Processing, Recycling of Food By Products, Ethnic and Religious Food, Food Product Development, Feeds and Pet Food Extrusion, Aquaculture Feed Processing, Texturization of Vegetable Protein.
Assessing bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables, dietary supplements, antioxidant fruit juices and other foods to define their role in prevention of chronic diseases and the protection of health in an integrative, translational research approach.