Nutrition Research

Our Research strengths in North Carolina and across the globe include:

Nigerian women participate in breastfeeding research conducted by Dr. Valerie Flax and Dr. Peggy Bentley.

  • Obesity and related conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers;
  • Role of nutrition and physical activity in preventing and treating disease in diverse populations;
  • Population trends in diet;
  • Influence of nutrients on the immune response to infectious disease, including gene-nutrient interactions and the development of cancer;
  • Relationships between obesity, environment, infection and diabetes; and
  • Role of agriculture and food systems in increasing food access, improving dietary intake and promoting economic development.

Our ultimate goal is to find solutions and produce research and intervention techniques that improve the health of people everywhere. Our faculty train students in nutritional sciences, clinical nutrition and public health to become global leaders and policy makers in their fields. They participate in a broad range of research in the physiological, biochemical, and behavioral aspects of nutrition and their respective practical applications. Our areas of focus are balanced by a commitment to research that improves the health of minority and underserved global populations.

Our Research Areas


Dr. Makowski (right) works in her lab with a BSPH student.

Identifying patterns in obesity and physical activity that influence the risk of developing and surviving various forms of the disease.

Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome
Focusing on lipid metabolism and molecular manipulation for prevention and treatment in high-risk populations.

Preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes in high-risk populations, and study Type 1 Diabetes in youth to improve their quality of life

Health Behavior
Including socioeconomic, psychosocial, and behavioral issues related to obesity prevention, weight management and disease risk reduction.

Immune Function and Infectious Disease
Exploring relationships between host nutrition, immunity, and response to infectious diseases, and studying toxic trace elements to identify molecular, genetic, and metabolic risk factors.

Maternal and Child Nutrition
Focusing on nutritional status of low-income mothers, fetal development, breastfeeding, and key nutrients in infant/toddler development.


Investigating childhood obesity, school and community nutrition policies, and translational research from lab to community regarding obesity’s influence on immune responses.

Other Research Resources

Read a more detailed description of faculty research interests on the Research Interests by Focus Area page.

Nutrition Department Faculty Profiles and Research Interests

Nutrition Research Institute (NRI)

UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)