Gillings School Directory

Saroja Voruganti, PhD

Dr. Saroja Voruganti

Saroja Voruganti, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Nutrition

Dr. Saroja Voruganti, Associate Professor of Nutrition, is working on building a nationally and internationally recognized research program in nutritional genomics at UNC. A unique field, nutritional genomics seeks to identify genetic susceptibility to diseases, effect of genetic variation on nutrient metabolism and the effect of nutrients on gene expression. She has extensively investigated the interplay between nutritional and genetic factors influencing disease risk in ethnically diverse populations, especially minority populations such as American Indian, Alaska Native, Parsi Zoroastrian and Hispanic populations. Her research is focused on uncovering new connections between genetics, nutrition, and epidemiology that can lead to more accurate determination disease risk and new treatment options for metabolic diseases. The key areas of her research program include:

• Gene-nutrient interactions affecting purine metabolism and related neurodegenerative diseases

• Genetic and environmental factors affecting complex diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease in ethnically diverse populations

Dr. Voruganti joined the faculty at the Department of Nutrition and NRI at UNC Chapel Hill in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor in October 2019. She has published extensively, including 120 research articles (13 as senior author and 20 as first author) with 30 articles in top tier journals. She is presently serving as an Associate Editor of the Frontiers in Genetics and Frontiers in Nutrition journals and is a Fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA). 

At UNC Chapel Hill, she teaches graduate courses, “Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics” and “Introduction to Nutritional Epidemiology”. At UNC NRI, she conducts an annual workshop-style course that covers the fundamental concepts of nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition. In addition to presentations by experts, the course includes hands-on analysis of genetic data using the latest tools. 

She is the co-Director of Precision Nutrition Core at the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), UNC Chapel Hill. In this role, she is working towards implementing a comprehensive support system for nutrigenomic & nutrigenetic research, including individualized consultation and advising of researchers, with the long-term goal of enabling a better understanding of the effects of interaction between lifestyle and genotypes on health and disease. 

Honors and Awards

Fellowship of the American Heart Association

2014, American Heart Association

Research Activities

Nutritional and genetic epidemiology

Metabolic effects of purines on health

Health disparities in minority populations

Research Interests

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease and Stroke
  • Neurological Disorders and Mental Health
  • Obesity

Key Publications

Fine mapping and identification of serum uric acid loci in American Indians: The Strong Heart Family Study. Chittoor G, Haack K, Balakrishnan P, Bizon C, Laston S, Best LG, MacCluer JW, North KE, Umans JG, Franceschini N, Prasad G, Macias-Kauffer L, Villarreal-Molina T, Bharadwaj D, Canizales-Quinteros S, Navas-Acien A, Cole SA, Voruganti VS.  (2019). Scientific Reports - Nature, 9(1), 17899.

Heterogeneity in metabolic responses to dietary fructose. Hou R, Panda C, Voruganti VS.  (2019). Frontiers in Genetics, 10.

Nutritional Genomics of cardiovascular disease. Voruganti VS.  (2018). Current Genetic Medicine Reports, 6(2), 98-106.

Serum uric acid concentrations and SLC2A9 genetic variation in Hispanic children: the Viva La Familia Study. Voruganti VS, Laston S, Haack K, Mehta NR, Cole SA, Butte NF, Comuzzie AG. (2015). Am J Clin Nutr, 101(4), 725-732.

Education

Post-doctoral fellowship, Genetic Epidemiology, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, 2009

PhD, Nutritional Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 2005

BSc (Hons), Foods and Nutrition, University of Delhi, 1985

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