The Nancy E. Moran Lab (Carotenoids and Nutrition Laboratory) seeks to understand how dietary carotenoids impact human health. Carotenoids are a class of colorful orange, red, and yellow compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Some carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are converted to vitamin A in the body- and therefore play an important role in development and health. Other carotenoids, such as red lycopene and yellow lutein, are not pro-vitamin A, but may play a role in cancer prevention and promotion of visual and cognitive function, respectively.
Our program engages a translational research approach, studying carotenoid metabolism and bioactivity in both model systems and in humans. We are studying the mechanisms by which carotenoids are absorbed and distributed throughout the body, how blood and tissue carotenoid concentrations can be used as biomarkers of dietary intake, and the molecular impacts of carotenoids in the body to better understand how carotenoids may promote health across the life cycle.