About the Lab

Welcome to Dr. Nancy E. Moran's Carotenoids and Nutrition Laboratory at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center.

Our research program seeks to understand how dietary phytochemicals impact human health. Carotenoids, a class of colorful orange, red, and yellow compounds found in fruits and vegetables, are the primary focus of our research. 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 growing evidence suggests these may play a role in cancer prevention and prevention of macular degeneration, respectively.

Our program engages a translational research approach. We are currently studying the cellular mechanisms by which carotenoids are absorbed from foods, distributed throughout the body, and metabolized using in vitro and animal models. As we better understand which proteins are involved in carotenoid uptake and metabolism, we will study how human genetic polymorphisms impact the levels of carotenoids found in the body. Furthermore, we are studying the molecular impacts of carotenoids on different sites in the body to better understand how carotenoid consumption may reduce the risk of disease in children and adults.