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Who We Are

The overall theme of our research is to understand health effects of environmental exposures and individual response through combining systems-level and targeted approaches, with the expertise in the area of microbiome, Omics (metabolomics, metagenomics, proteomics, lipidomics, etc) and mass spectrometry-based biomarker development. We are very grateful to the support from members, collaborators, colleagues and funding agencies. Of particular importance, the Lab is fortunate to have outstanding members. It is their talent, passion, hardworking and dedication that make it possible for our lab to conduct cutting-edge research and deliver results with high quality and impact. The PI, Dr. Lu, is a long-time Tar Heel fan, who was trained as a toxicologist in Dr. James Swenberg’s lab at UNC. Thereafter, he was a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Prof. Steve Tannenbaum, and was appointed as an Assistant Professor at University of Georgia in 2012. The Lu LAB was relocated to UNC in August, 2016

What We Do

The overarching goal of our lab is to better understand the health effects of environmental exposure, with the current emphasis being placed on microbiome research, exposome and biomarker development.

(i) Microbiome-Exposure/Disease Interaction: We aim to answer how gut microbiome interacts with environmental exposure, how gut microbiome affects disease susceptibility, how host factors crosstalk with microbiome response to chemicals, and how to develop intervention strategies to prevent or alleviate cancer and human disease by modulating microbiome and its functions.

(ii) Exposome Mapping in Humans: Our goals are to characterize all possible exposure over the lifespan, understand the health impact of the exposome, and apply the knowledge we acquired to reduce exposure-induced disease burdens in human.

(iii) Biomarker Development and Exposure Measurement: We are working on developing specific sensitive biomarkers for environmental exposure and human diseases, such as DNA and protein adducts and metabolite or lipid-based biomarkers using diverse mass spectrometry platforms. We are also developing mass spectrometry methods to measure environmental chemicals, such as pesticides, phthalates, BPA analogues and many others.

How We Do

We combined both systems-level and targeted approaches in our research.  We heavily used highly integrated system-level approaches combining DNA sequencing, metabolomics, proteomics and lipidomics, coupled with the use of diverse cell types, animal and disease models to address these challenges. Of equal importance, we developed and applied highly specific targeted biomarkers to assess exposure and human diseases.