We investigate the colonization processes of the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract and how this affects disease susceptibility.

diagramThe intestinal microbiome includes a complex and diverse environment of microbes and their genetic material that interact intimately with the host mucosal-immune system. The microbiota normally lives in harmony with the intestine and plays a significant role in the development of intestinal immune responses in neonates. Compelling emerging evidence has identified the intestinal microbiome as a major factor contributing to the etiology of IBD; dysbiosis, or altered microbial populations, have been observed in patients with IBD. Any significant alterations made to the microbiota’s ecology would likely have a significant impact on the host’s immune responses with wide- ranging biological consequences since components of the intestinal microbiome play a crucial role in the early development of both local and systemic immunity. To date, however, little is known about the evolution of an individual’s microbiome or its role in health and disease. Understanding the dynamics of microbial population changes along with their transciptomes may offer insight into the role each population plays during intestinal homeostasis and disease. CMID investigates the intestinal microbiome and determine the contributing roles of environmental factors (with a focus on postnatal and maternal diets) and genetics. The research program aims to understand how the intestinal microbiome is affected by dietary and innate immune factors and in turn, how diet can protect against intestinal disease.

The overall hypothesis of the lab is that environmental factors, such as nutrition, physical activity, drugs and stress influence the ecology and functioning of the intestinal microbiome, which alters disease susceptibility.