Huge thanks to members of the Karin Grunebaum Foundation - I am very grateful that they have decided to support research in my young lab.
The goal of my lab is to use small molecules to study and manipulate human-associated bacteria in order to better understand how the microbiome affects human health and disease. One of the main axes through which the bacterial guest and human host communicate is via the host immune system. In a positive sense, commensal strains play an important role in the development and modulation of the immune system. In a negative sense, growing evidence suggests that gut dysbiosis can promote inflammatory conditions that promote tumor initiation and progression. We seek to understand the following: what small molecules are produced by human gut bacteria and how are they biosynthesized, what effect do these molecules have on bacteria-bacteria interactions, what effect do these molecules have on bacteria-host interactions in conditions of both health and disease (i.e., colon and liver cancer, inflammatory bowel disease), and how can we use this knowledge to help patients by developing first-in-class therapies that target the microbiota? In particular, we are committed to investigating the biosynthesis and biological activities of secondary bile acids, bacterial metabolites that may play crucial roles in both the suppression and development of colon and liver cancers.