Meet our People

Audrey Goldbaum, Graduate Student

My love of poisons is what first led me to pursue my major, Molecular Toxicology, at the University of California, Berkeley. What I found particularly interesting was how food and drink frequently went hand-in-hand with poison, sometimes accidentally. To create wine, ancient Romans boiled grape juice in lead pots because it produced the sweet-tasting compound lead acetate, which unbeknownst at the time, was quite toxic. In a less accidental setting, Goldbaumon the television show “Murder, She Wrote”, the heroine, Jessica Fletcher immediately recognizes cyanide’s quintessential burnt-almond smell lingering around a tainted tea cup during an important business dinner. While I was and am in no mind to repeat these situations, I recognized the power of food and drink (sans the deadly additions) in determining health outcomes. After all, given the right dose, any substance can kill you. Naturally, though a little troubling to my mother, my interests shifted towards studying the role of diet and nutrition on human health.

To pursue this interest, after graduating college in 2014, I went to work as a research technician in the lab of Alice H. Lichtenstein at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Two years later, after finally being able to recite this description from memory, I left city life and came to Purdue to pursue a PhD in Nutrition Science.

I currently work under the tutelage of Dr. Laura Bowers and Dr. Tzu-Wen Cross, where I examine how diet and obesity mediate gut microbiota composition to influence the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) in mouse models. I focus on the gut microbiota because it’s adjacent to the mucosal tissue where tumors develop, has been shown to affect tumorigenesis, and is significantly affected by diet, which is the primary factor driving the development of obesity. My study measures how unhealthy diets, in an obese and lean model, mediate gut microbiota composition, and then isolate how the gut microbiota from these models influence the development of CRC. 

Department of Nutrition Science, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059 (765) 494-8228, Fax: (765) 494-0674

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