Postdoctoral Research Associate
My work focuses on discovering mechanisms for why the majority of bacteria that exist, including those found on or inside the human body (our microbiome) are unable to be cultivated in the laboratory.
More specifically, this involves identifying growth factors produced by our normal bacterial flora that other microbes require for growth in the lab. This work will allow access to novel bacterial diversity — and consequently a new source for bacterial bi-products, such as antibiotics — and potentially lead to the discovery of compounds able to alter the human microbiome in times of disease.
This project is in collaboration with the Human Microbiome Initiative (http://www.hmpdacc.org), which is a movement looking to identify the species of bacteria which reside on or in our bodies with the goal to elucidate the roles these microbes have in health and disease. This has become a fascinating topic to study, as our resident microbes have been found to have roles in many significant conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Recently, my work has led me to focus on the gut-microbe-brain axis, specifically microbes able to modulate levels of neurotransmitters.