Zuzana Drobna

Dr. Drobna with students.

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Research Assistant Professor, Nutrition


Dr. Drobna’s research at the Gillings School has been focused on the evaluation of mechanisms of cancerous and non-cancerous diseases caused by environmental exposure to arsenic, a contaminant commonly present in drinking water. Her research interests include metabolism of arsenic and understanding of arsenic-induced epigenetic changes which are manifested by diseases. The goal of this research is to identify biomarkers of arsenic exposure and diseases. Read More

Dr. Drobna is a member of the Society of Toxicology and the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society. Dr. Drobna is working with a team that studies the link between genetic polymorphism (i.e., the existence of two or more different traits or characteristics within a population) and susceptibility to the adverse health effects in individuals chronically exposed to arsenic. She is carrying out research of the effects of specific nutrients and food components on the transport and metabolism of arsenic in human cells.  The new area of her research is devoted to the role of dietary folate in modulation of epigenetic mechanisms in liver carcinogenesis and brain development after in utero exposure to arsenic. The main goal of this research is to determine the effectiveness and safety of folate intake for individuals, pregnant women and their newborns in particular, affected by chronic arsenic exposure. Dr. Drobna is a past recipient of the Marilyn Gentry Fellowship Program in Nutrition and Cancer, supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Active Projects

  • In utero exposure to arsenic, links to epigenetic alterations and disease
  • Environmental arsenic and diabetes mellitus
  • Mechanisms of arsenic-induced diabetes mellitus


  • United States



2003 Michael Hooker Research Center, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Campus Box 7461
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7461