Rebecca Fry


Associate Professor 
Environmental Sciences & Engineering

Occupational and Environmental Exposure Science Program
North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center
REACH NC (Collexis) Research Profile

1213 Michael Hooker Research Center, Office: MHRC 0032 
135 Dauer Drive 
Campus Box 7431 
Chapel Hill 27599 
T: 919-843-6864


1995  William Smith College  BS, Biology

1997  Tulane University  MS, Biology

2000  Tulane University  PhD, Biology

Research Interests

  • Cancer
  • Child development
  • Environment (water)
  • Global health

 Research Activities

The lab focuses on understanding how environmental exposures are associated with human disease with a particular focus on genomic and epigenomic perturbations. Using environmental toxicogenomics and systems biology approaches, we aim to identify key molecular pathways that associate environmental exposure with diseases. A current focus in the lab is to study prenatal exposure to various types of metals including arsenic, cadmium, and lead. We aim to understand molecular mechanisms by which such early exposures are associated with long-term health effects in humans. For example, we are examining DNA methylation profiles in humans exposed to metals during the prenatal period. This research will enable the identification of gene and epigenetic biomarkers of metal exposure. The identified genes can serve as targets for study to unravel potential molecular bases for metal-induced disease. Ultimately, we aim to identify mechanisms of metal -induced disease and the basis for inter-individual disease susceptibility.

Key Publications

Smeester L, Rager JE, Bailey KA, Guan X, Smith N, García-Vargas G, Del Razo LM, Drobná Z, Kelkar H, Stíyblo M, Fry RC (2011) Epigenetic changes in individuals with arsenicosis. Chemical Research in Toxicology: vol.24(2):165-7

Benton MA, Rager JE, Smeester L, Fry RC. (2011) Comparative genomic analyses identify common molecular pathways modulated upon exposure to low doses of arsenic and cadmium. BMC Genomics: vol.12, p.2011 Apr 1;12(1):173.

Rager JE, Smeester L, Jaspers I, Sexton KG, Fry RC. (2010) Epigenetic Changes Induced by Air Toxics: Formaldehyde Exposure Alters miRNA Expression Profiles in Human Lung Cells. EHP

Liu Q, Zhang H, Smeester L, Zou F, Kesic M, Jaspers I, Pi J, Fry RC. (2010) The NRF2-mediated oxidative stress response pathway is associated with tumor cell resistance to arsenic trioxide across the NCI-60 panel. BMC Medical Genomics: vol.3, p.37.

Fry RC, Navasumrit P, Valiathan C, Svensson JP, Hogan BJ, Luo M, Bhattacharya S, Kandjanapa K, Soontararuks S, Nookabkaew S, Mahidol C, Ruchirawat M, Samson LD (2007) 
Activation of inflammation/NF-kappaB signaling in infants born to arsenic-exposed mothers. PLoS Genet.: vol.11, p.e207.