Gillings School Directory

Melinda Beck, PhD

Melinda Beck

Melinda Beck, PhD

Department of Nutrition
Associate Chair for Academics
Department of Nutrition
  • 2303 Michael Hooker Research Center
  • 7461
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599

My laboratory studies the relationship between host nutrition and the immune response to infectious disease. Using a mouse model of obesity, we are exploring the mechanism(s) for high mortality from influenza infection in obese mice compared with lean mice. We also have an ongoing clinical research study designed to understand the mechanism(s) involved that impair the influenza vaccine response in obese adults compared with healthy weight adults. We have also demonstrated that host deficiencies in antioxidant nutrients can lead to viral mutations resulting in an avirulent pathogen becoming virulent, suggesting that the host nutritional status can be a driving force for the evolution of viruses.

Honors and Awards

Commeorativa Centenario del Natalicio de Pedro Kouri, medal given for outstanding contribution to science

2003, Instituto de Medicina Tropical “Pedro Kouriâ, Havana, Cuba.

E.L.R. Stockstad Award

2001, American Society for Nutritional Sciences Associate Editor, Experimental Biology and Medicine

Representative Courses

NUTR 175, Intro to Food Studies: From Science to Society

NUTR 240, Introduction to Human Nutrition

NUTR 861, Advanced Nutritional Biochemistry: Nutrition & Immunology

Research Interests

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Infectious Disease
  • Obesity

Key Publications

1H NMR-Based Profiling Reveals Differential Immune-Metabolic Networks during Influenza Virus Infection in Obese Mice. M Beck, T Ebbels, J Milner, J Saric, P Sheridan, J Wang (2014). PloS one, 9(5), e97238.

Obesity and influenza infection severity. Melinda Beck, J. Milner (2014). Future Virology, 9(3), 223-225.

Overweight and obese adult humans have a defective cellular immune response to pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus. M Beck, J Handy, M Hudgens, E Karlsson, T Noah, H Paich, S Schultz-Cherry, P Sheridan, S Weir (2013). Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.).


BA, Zoology, University of California, 1978

MS, Biological Sciences, California Polytechnic University, 1983

PhD, Microbiology/Immunology, The Ohio State University, 1987

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