|Associate Department Chair
Melinda Beck's Biosketch
REACH NC (Collexis) Research Profile
|1987||The Ohio State University||PhD, Medical Microbiology and Immunology|
|1983||California Polytechnic State University||MS, Biological Sciences|
|1978||University of California, Berkeley||BA, Zoology|
Research exploration of the relationship between host nutrition and immune function and response to infectious disease. Research in the laboratory has demonstrated that host deficiencies in antioxidant nutrients lead to viral mutations which results in viruses becoming pathogenic. This was the first description of a specific host nutritional deficiency driving changes in a viral genome permitting an avirulent virus to acquire virulence. Dr. Beck’s laboratory research suggests that host nutritional status is a driving force for the emergence of infectious diseases. Current research is focused on determining the mechanism(s) involved in inducing mutations in viruses which replicate in an oxidatively stressed host as well as understanding the effect of nutritionally-induced oxidative stress on the immune system. In addition, Dr. Beck is studying the effects of obesity on the immune response. Her research indicates that diet-induced obese animals have a much higher mortality rate from influenza infection than lean animals. In addition, obese humans may not respond to influenza virus vaccination as efficiently as lean individuals. Understanding how obesity impacts the immune response to infection is currently under study.