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North Carolina Central University

Nutrition Research Program

NC Central University’s (NCCU) Nutrition Research Program is part of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI) at the main campus of NCCU in Durham, NC.

The BBRI conducts multidisciplinary and inter-institutional research focused on health issues that disproportionately affect minority and underserved populations while providing students with research experiences that enhance their access to careers in the biomedical sciences. Research programs include cardiovascular metabolic, cancer, neuroscience and human nutrition.

At the NC Research Campus, NCCU conducts research to identify and evaluate bioactive natural products from functional foods and herbal medicine. The goal is to use metabolomic and nutrigenomic approaches to find new options to prevent and treat diseases like cancer and diabetes as well as their many complications.

NCCU Principal Investigator TinChung Leung, PhD, employs a zebrafish vertebrate model to understand the molecular mechanisms of diseases and to validate therapeutic compounds including drug-like small molecules and natural products. Leung uses zebrafish to research the development of cancer and to test compounds to aid in the prevention and treatment of the disease. In collaboration with NC A&T Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, zebrafish showed that ginger metabolites can help reduce anemia caused by chemotherapy or renal disease.

Principal Investigator Xiaohe Yang, MD, PhD, studies the isoflavone genistein and its relationship to breast cancer. He also studies the impact of maternal exposure to dietary and environmental factors on the daughter’s breast cancer risk, and the prevention of breast cancer with metformin, a blockbuster anti-diabetes drug.

NC Central University’s research encompasses:

  • Use of cancer and diabetes models to study the preventive effects of bioactive food components on cancer and diabetes and its complications.
  • Purification, structure elucidation, bioavailability and biotransformation studies of novel bioactive natural products from functional foods and medicinal herbs such as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Use of chemical and genetic approaches to dissect the molecular mechanism of blood vessel development to suppress cardiovascular diseases and to combat cancers.
  • Standardization and quality control of herbal medicine and functional foods.

About the HOPE Program

The Health Equity, Environment and Population Health (HOPE) program at the Julius Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI) of the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) serves as a rural hub working in partnership with public health departments, community based organizations and other academic and private entities to improve racial health disparities in medically underserved areas.  HOPE will reverse the negatives effects of social determinants of health and assure healthy communities through strategic partnerships and evidence-based community-based health initiatives that demonstrate continuous quality improvement. And, HOPE will succeed in communities where health status indicators have been among the worst in the state of North Carolina for decades.  The linkage between community and North Carolina Central University will be the cornerstone that will propel HOPE forward as the program becomes instrumental in making North Carolina a leader in population health outcomes.  

Visit the North Carolina Central University Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute online.


Nikia Laurie, PhD

Interim Director