Nutrition and Genomics

The Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory is a pioneer in the study of gene-diet interactions in the area of cardiovascular diseases, utilizing both genetic epidemiology approaches as well as controlled dietary intervention studies.

Lab Objectives
1. Identify metabolomic-based biomarkers of dietary and exercise behavior in normal-weight and obese elderly individuals and the genetic variants associating with the baseline levels of these metabolites.

2. Determine the demographic, behavioral, metabolomic and genetic drivers of the excess obesity in elderly population(s) suffering health disparity.

3. Determine the relationships between aging-related changes in gene expression, endogenous and exogenous microRNAs, metabolic factors and chronotype in response to metabolic challenges such as unhealthy dietary habits, high-fat loads and physical inactivity.

4. Identify genomic, and epigenomic and metabolic markers that predict cardiovascular status and metabolic health during aging and define specific dietary, physical activity and other lifestyle factors that are most suitable to an individual’s genetic and epigenetic profile.

5. Use a multi-omics approach to identify multi-level genome/metagenome/diet interactions that modulate inflammation and aging pathways in normal-weight and obese individuals.

Lab Members
Jose M. Ordovas, Ph.D., Laboratory Director
Senior Scientist and Professor, Nutrition and Molecular Genetics
Research focus: molecular biology, nutrition, and genetics; lipoproteins and cardiovascular disease risk

Kris Richardson, Ph.D.
Scientist III
Research Focus: Bioinformatics, gene by diet interaction analysis in obesity, SNP analysis and functional annotation, microRNAs, molecular biology

Caren E. Smith, M.S., D.V.M
Scientist II
Research focus: nutrient-gene interactions in cardiovascular disease, exercise-gene interactions in cardiovascular disease.

Martin S. Obin, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Research focus: Nutrient effects on obesity-associated complications and aging

Chao-Qiang Lai, Ph.D.
Research Molecular Biologist, USDA, ARS
Research focus: molecular biology, population genetics, nutrition and genetics; genetics and molecular mechanisms of aging; and lipoproteins and cardiovascular disease risk

Laurence D. Parnell, Ph.D.
Computational Biologist, USDA, ARS
Research focus: bioinformatics and genomics of nutrition; single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, comparative genomics, candidate gene discovery, transcription microarrays, nutrition systems biology

Yu-Chi Lee, M.S., PhD Student

Luke Baccari, Research Administrator
Kathy Li, Administrative Assistant

For contact information, please click on the scientist’s webpage or visit the Tufts University online directory at

For more about ARS Scientists or USDA, Agricultural Research Service Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging: