B.FA., Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO
M.S., University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, Nutrition Science, 2013
Ph.D., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, Nutrition Science, 2017
Originally from St. Louis, Susan Komanetsky earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drawing and Ceramics from Fontbonne College, before moving to the western United States to work as a freelance artist and studio potter. Susan returned to academia in 2010 to study nutrition science in the Coordinated Master’s Program (CMP) in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Her master’s thesis, completed in the lab of endocrinologist Timothy Graham, centered on an animal model of retinol metabolism, its relationship to metabolic disease, and Retinol binding protein receptor 2 (RBPR2). After obtaining her MS, Susan continued her research training and obtained a PhD in nutrition science from Purdue University’s Interdepartmental Nutrition Program, where her interests centered on adipose tissue biology and the metabolic changes that occur in fat tissue preceding the development of obesity-related diseases. With her doctoral advisor Kee Hong Kim, Susan used proteomics to study the phenotype of murine adipocytes exposed to reactive glycolytic byproducts; an in vitro model designed to illustrate the cellular consequences that could accompany a diet high in simple sugars. After obtaining her PhD, Susan set aside time to give back to her community by serving veterans as well as the elderly as a clinical dietitian. In 2020 Susan accepted a postdoctoral position with the USDA ARS Human Nutrition Center in Grand Forks, ND to work with Lin Yan on a novel animal model of breast cancer, investigating the effects of diet on mammary tumor development during puberty.
In February 2022, Susan joined the Chapkin lab at Texas A&M University, she is investigating the role diet plays in colorectal cancer. In addition to assisting with the management of the lab’s research animal colonies, Susan’s specific interests in Chapkin lab center on using animal and in vitro models to understand the biology of colonic adult stem cells (CSC). Efforts are focusing on how the silencing of mismatch repair genes (MMR), associated both with a significant increase in mutation rate and disruptions to normal cell cycle checkpoints, may provide CSCs with a competitive advantage over CSCs that retain functioning MMR expression. Given her clinical experience, Susan is also interested in identifying early markers of colonic stem cell transformation within the exfoliome, exfoliated epithelial cells found in feces, as a promising non-invasive strategy for early detection of oncogenesis in humans.