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Humans and other mammals are colonized by complex populations of microbes that constitute the microbiota. Some commensal bacteria enhance immune defenses by inducing host expression of antimicrobial factors while others secrete antimicrobial molecules that inhibit pathogens. We study interactions between pathogenic and beneficial bacteria and their mammalian hosts. Our laboratory’s research focuses on a wide range of commensal bacteria that have been characterized at the genomic, proteomic and metabolomic level and we are using gnotobiotic mice to test assembled commensal consortia for their ability to enhance resistance against pathogenic bacteria. Using these platforms, we have identified multiple novel mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance that can be exploited to reduce the risk of infection by highly antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Our laboratory has worked closely with clinical groups to investigate the role of the microbiota in clinical outcomes. We have demonstrated that loss of microbiota diversity during allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation adversely impacts outcomes and have investigated the impact of microbiota composition on the risk of developing colitis during checkpoint blockade cancer immunotherapy.