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Two more biotech researchers added at UNC Nutrition Research Institute at N.C. Research Campus

Staff report
KANNAPOLIS ó The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has added two more biotech researchers to the staff of its Nutrition Research Institute at the N.C. Research Campus.
Dr. Carol Cheatham has joined the Nutrition Institute’s brain research team and also will hold an appointment as assistant professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s department of psychology.
Dr. Huili Wang will focus her research on nutrigenomics, the study of how some nutrients change genes and also how genes, in turn, can affect how effectively a person absorbs nutrients.
Cheatham specialized in nutrition and pediatric brain development in the Kansas University Medical Center’s department of dietetics and nutrition before taking her new job in Kannapolis. Her studies focus on how nutrition can improve children’s brain performance.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, she earned her Ph.D. in child psychology and neuroscience in 2004. She has since published research on memory recall in pre-term infants, the role of fatty acids in neonatal brains and how stress impacts brain development, as well as other topics.
“Dr. Cheatham is an expert on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) for normal brain development,” Nutrition Research Institute Director Dr. Steven Zeisel said in a press release. “This is an exciting and promising area of research that is changing the way women eat during pregnancy and lactation.”
Wang’s previous research has included cell signaling, genomics and gene mutation as they relate to the development of cancer. As a post-doctoral fellow at the Nutrition Research Institute, Wang will study genetic variations and how they affect nutrient requirements.
In particular, Wang will look at choline, a nutrient that is essential for liver function and may help fetal brain development.
“My research is focusing on the impact of genetic variation on dietary choline requirement,” Wang said. “This research could help to reliably identify individuals most affected by choline deficiency so that a preventative dietary supplementation could be provided.”
Wang earned a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Duke University in 2005. Prior to coming to the United States, she studied genetics and biology at universities in China.
“Huili Wang is a gifted genetics researcher who will be studying how our genes influence our dietary requirements for choline,” Zeisel said.
“We think this work will be of great importance in preventing birth defects because we think some women need diets that are enriched in choline during pregnancy.”
Though located at the rapidly expanding Research Campus in Kannapolis, the Nutrition Research Institute also is part of UNC’s School of Public Health.

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