Texas Tech University

Nutritional Sciences Research

Faculty Research and Labs


Martin Binks, Ph.D., FTOS
Behavioral Medicine & Translational Research Lab (BMTR)

The Behavioral Medicine & Translational Research Lab (BMTR) engages in clinical and translational research in nutrition, obesity & other metabolic diseases. Our current research interests include behavioral pharmacologic and surgical treatment for obesity and metabolic disease, neurophysiology of obesity and ingestive behavior (e.g. fMRI), physiological and behavioral correlates of physical activity (including the influences of pain and sleep).

Our lab experience immerses undergraduate and graduate student researchers in all areas of research being conducted by Dr. Binks and his students, with everyone pitching in on most studies. This provides a complete clinical research training experience and exposure to a wide range of topics and skillsets. Students are involved in all aspects of research from inception through publication and presentation. Our goal is to train future clinical research scientists and the future leaders in the field. Our students leave well-prepared for the next step(s) on their path to research and or clinical careers in academia, healthcare and private sectors.

John Dawson, Ph.D.

I am a biostatistician with additional expertise in nutrition research, obesity research, misreporting and data fidelity and statistical genetics. In addition to my own research, must of which involves secondary data analysis, I am involved in the planning, design, execution and analysis of most of the projects conducted by faculty and students within Nutritional Sciences. This includes, but is not limited to, study design, sample size and power calculations, matching implementation and conducting and interpreting data analysis. If you're an MS or Ph.D. student in Nutritional Sciences, there's a very good chance that I will teach one or more of your courses, be involved with your research, be a member of your committee or all of the above.

Nik Dhurandhar, Ph.D.


  1. Laboratory based studies: We use various cell and animal models to study molecular mechanisms and cell signaling involved in diabetes and obesity. Some examples include studying the role of infection in developing obesity, or the development of drug for diabetes from a gene obtained from a virus. We have received many national and international patents for this research.
  2. Clinical studies: We conduct studies involving human subjects, which mainly address various aspects of diabetes and obesity. Examples of some recently conducted studies include determining the role of eggs in enhancing weight loss in adults or children, or the role of protein quality on feeling of fullness, or hormones that control hunger and satiety.

Vijay Hegde, Ph.D.

The overall focus of our research is in the area of obesity, diabetes and related comorbidities. Ongoing research projects involve:

  1. Identifying key factors linking diabetes with Alzheimer's disease.
  2. Studying the biological links between obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Iurii (Yuri) Koboziev, Ph.D.

My research interest is focused on the role of intestinal microbiota in pathogenesis of obesity and chronic inflammation as well as in mediating protective effects of bioactive food components. I study the alterations in composition and metabolism of gut microflora caused by different diets, and the link between these alterations and host's health status. I use mouse models of dietary obesity for investigating the role of gut bacteria in mediating anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and gastrointestinal protective effects of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) and polyphenols. I work on developing therapeutic dietary protocols for co-administration of few bioactive nutrients which exert complementary protective effects. In addition to that, I investigate anti-obesity effects of the fecal microbial transfer, novel biotechnological protocol with high therapeutic potential.

Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Ph.D., FTOS, FAHA
NIOR Laboratory

Dr. Moustaid-Moussa directs the Nutrigenomics, Inflammation & Obesity Research (NIOR) laboratory in Nutritional Sciences at the TTU College of Human Sciences. She has been leading a basic and integrated nutrition and obesity research, primarily funded by USDA, NIH, ADA and AHA. Primary research emphasis is on nutrient-gene interactions and the endocrine function of adipose tissue in obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic disorders, especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Moustaid-Moussa'lab used various bioactive compounds form food and botanicals (such as omega 3 fatty acids, tart cherry anthocyanins, tocotrienols (vitamin E family) and bioextracts from switchgrass) to prevent/treat obesity-associated inflammation using cells, model organisms, and animal models. Her secondary areas of research interests include beta cell function in diabetes and childhood obesity prevention. She has ongoing obesity-related collaborative research projects with faculty from other universities and from TTUHSC and TTU (NS, Human Sciences, Center for Biotechnology & Benomics, Plant and Soil Sciences, Animal and Food Sciences, Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Agricultural Economics, Media and Communications, School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences).

Academic Websites:
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/hs/ns/research/nior/
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/hs/obesityresearch/

Mary Murimi, Ph.D., RD, LDN

The overarching goal of my lab is progressing research knowledge in developing strategies to combat food insecurity and the related complications.

An important goal of my advisory is to mentor Ph.D. students in my research team to get the experience and training they need to become independent researchers and experts in the area of interest. My research interest include:

  1. Identifying coping strategies for food insecurity and Identifying factors that influence dietary behavior, especially among low-income populations.
  2. Understanding the underlying drivers for stunting during infancy
  3. Understanding the effect of food insecurity on the quantity and quality of breastfeeding
  4. Assessing the child feeding practices among different cultures and social economic status

Wilna Oldewage-Theron, Ph.D., RD(SA)

She has fifteen years Community Nutrition research experience in Africa and is a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researcher in South Africa (SA). Her research interests include the factors contributing to household food insecurity and malnutrition in resource-poor communities where she has investigated the effect of various interventions, such as food fortification, supplementation, nutrition education, food product development and implementation, as well as school feeding programs on food insecurity, dietary diversity and nutritional status of women and children as well as the elderly. Her community research and development program at present include; understanding food and nutrition insecurity of University students (USA), Senior citizens (USA), food-based approaches to addressing iron deficiency among women and their young children (Ghana) and the soy applications and the nutritional benefits of soy for human health (SA). She has also been involved in impact studies for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (SA), Joint Aid Management, the United States Potato Board, and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (USA). Prof. Oldewage-Theron organizes a study abroad on World Food Problems. This course is an international experience and as such students travel through South Africa, Kenya and other African countries.

Shaikh Mizanoor Rahman, Ph.D.
Immunometabolism Lab

Research in my lab focuses on:

  1. Understanding the cellular and molecular events that govern immune cell activation in inflammation associated diseases including obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
  2. Investigating the metabolic changes in tumor and tumor microenvironment and its association with tumor progression.

We are using in vitro cell culture and mouse models and also employ loss and gain of gene function and bioactive compounds to address the scientific questions related to these projects.

Latha Ramalingam, Ph.D.

Latha's research interests include strategies, both in vitro and in vivo, to investigate the effects of Bioactives (omega-3 fatty acids) in maternal obesity, role of the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) in beta cells, and the interactions between adipocytes and beta cells and their influence on diabetes and obesity.

Debra Reed, Ph.D., RDN, LD

My passion is Community Nutrition—whether it is teaching undergraduate or graduate students about it or conducting research related to it. Currently, my colleagues and I are focusing our research on the development and testing of innovative web-based technology to reach parents with nutrition and health messages to prevent child obesity. This multi-disciplinary approach has involved students and faculty from nutritional sciences, child development, psychology, health communications, and computer sciences. My Integrated Scholar profile, which shows how I synthesize teaching, research, and engagement in my professional activity, is shown here. http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/scholars/2015/reed.php.

Andrew Shin, Ph.D.

Dr. Shin is interested in understanding how the brain controls metabolism and nutrient partitioning as well as the long-term regulation of body weight and appetite and the underlying mechanisms of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery. Dr. Shin's current NIH-funded research project aims to understand the role of insulin action in the brain in regulating branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) metabolism and how this central control can contribute to glucose homeostasis by using molecular, pharmacological, transgenic, surgical, and integrative physiological approaches.

Jullian Spallholz, Ph.D. and Mallory Boylan, Ph.D.

Professor Julian Spallholz has 50 years of varied nutrition, toxicological and drug research experience with the essential dietary nutrient selenium required by 25 different human proteins. Certain species of selenium compounds are catalytic and very toxic in vitro to cells and in vivo to animals. Understanding this redox associated toxicity of selenium, Dr. Spallholz has adapted this selenium toxicity through organic synthesis to attach redox selenides to small molecules, polypeptides, drugs and monoclonal antibodies. The effect and goal is to turn toxic drugs less toxic by way of reducing the concertation toxicity effect of the native drug, or conversely, to turn non-toxic small molecules, peptides and proteins toxic. This is presently being done with small molecules and commercial monoclonal antibodies that are used to treat cancer and which over time induce cancer resistant to cells. Addition of redox selenium to monoclonal antibodies make cancer resistant cells more susceptible to prior conventional monoclonal antibody treatment as demonstrated in vitro. The antibodies being presently studied with attached selenium are the commercial clinical monoclonal antibodies, Herceptin and Avastin, which interfere with the epithelia growth factors associated with cancer cells. Detailed references to this research can be found at Google Scholar or PUBMED. The work is collaborative with undergraduate, graduate students and several other faculty from both domestic and foreign laboratories.

Shu Wang, MD, Ph.D.
Nutrition and Nanomedicine Laboratory

Welcome to Dr. Shu Wang's Nutrition and Nanomedicine Laboratory at Texas Tech University!  The primary focus of our group is to study and develop biodegradable and biocompatible nanoparticles for targeted delivery of bioactive compounds to disease tissues or cells, with the goals of detection, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Our researches involve:

  • Detection, prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis using nanovesicles
  • Obesity prevention and treatment using nanoencapsulated bioactive compounds
  • Cancer prevention and treatment using nanoencapsulated bioactive compounds

More information on the website of Dr. Wang's Nutrition and Nanomedicine Laboratory
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/hs/ns/research/nutrition_nanomedicine/

 

Nutritional Sciences