Melinda Beck

Dr. Beck in the lab.

Dr. Beck in the lab.

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Associate Chair, Nutrition


Dr. Beck researches the relationship between nutritional status and body weight and the immune response to influenza and other infectious diseases.  Read More

Dr. Beck’s laboratory research has shown that the nutritional status of the host is a driving force for the emergence of infectious diseases, and that obesity affects the immune response. Her lab has demonstrated that animals who become obese through diet have a much higher mortality rate from influenza infection than lean animals. In translating the animal model to humans, her laboratory has found that following influenza vaccination, obese individuals are not able to sustain anti-flu antibodies to the same level as healthy weight individuals. Her lab has found that the T cells (the cells that direct and regulate immune response and attack infected cells) from obese and overweight individuals have a poor response to the H1N1 strain of influenza, suggesting that obese and overweight individuals would be less able to respond to an influenza infection. The lab is currently focusing on understanding the mechanisms that underpin this poor vaccine response in obese and overweight individuals, in order to recommend the most effective ways to enhance their immune response.

Active Projects

  • Viral Adaptation to Host Selenium Status
  • Risk of Influenza Infection In a Vaccinated Obese Population
  • Diesel-Induced Alterations of Influenza Infectivity


  • United States



2303 Michael Hooker Research Center, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Campus Box 7461
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-7461
T: 919-966-6809