Dr. Drobna is Focused on the Role of Nutrition in the Prevention of Cancer

Dr. Zuzana Drobna

Dr. Zuzana Drobna

Dr. Drobna received her PhD in Biochemistry from Institute of Heart Research, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia. Her scientific career has been associated with the University of North Carolina since 2001. She started as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics and subsequently the Department of Nutrition. Since 2007 she has held the position of Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Nutrition.

Dr. Drobna’s current research interests are focused on the role of nutrition in the prevention of cancer, specifically cancer associated with prenatal exposures to occupational or environmental carcinogens. Dr. Drobna has been awarded the Marilyn Gentry Fellowship in Nutrition and Cancer, a unique faculty development program funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research – World Cancer Research Fund (for more information see http://www.aicr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_aicr_institute_unc ). Dr. Drobna has a full membership in the Society of Toxicology and is also a member of other professional societies. In addition to her research activities, Dr. Drobna provides consultations and training in contemporary biochemical techniques to students and international visitors. She co-leads a seminar for Doctoral Students and assists with Nutr 400.
Dr. Drobna’s fellowship research project The role of nutrition in modulationof the metabolism and cancer promoting effects of arsenic investigates effects of nutrients and food components on transport systems, signaling pathways, and epigenetic events that play a critical role in cancer development, prevention and treatment. At the present the following studies are in progress:

1. Epigenetics of the transplacental arsenic carcinogenesis: The role of dietary choline and folate. The objective of this project is to examine the effects of dietary micronutrients that are methyl donors on DNA methylation, arsenic metabolism, and carcinogenic outcomes in mouse offsprings after in utero exposure.
2. The role of flavonoids in modulation of the metabolism of arsenic in cultures of primary human hepatocytes, hepatocarcinoma and colorectal adenocarcinoma cells.

The overall goal of this study is to provide understanding of the mechanisms that regulate intestinal absorption, bioavailability, and metabolism of arsenic, potent human carcinogen, and to generate novel data on the role of food components, especially isoflavonoids, in modulation of these mechanisms. Results will support translational studies of the effects of isoflavonoids or an isoflavonoid-rich diet on arsenic carcinogenesis.

3. The role of flavonoids in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. This project is designed to identify an alternative drug with reduced side effects in treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia.


Dr. Drobna's Research Team: (left to right) Vaness Cross, Olivia Dong, Dr. Zuzana Drobna, Verne Tsang

Dr. Drobna’s Research Team: (left to right) Vaness Cross, Olivia Dong, Dr. Zuzana Drobna, Verne Tsang


Last updated October 29, 2013