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Drosophila sensory neurons tile the larval body wall, Dr. Chun Han

Faculty

Office: 
HSE 1001F
Phone: 
(415) 502-3237

Peter Turnbaugh

Impact of the human gut microbiome on pharmacology

Differences in the genes found in the cells that make up the human body often only explain a fraction of the observed differences in the efficacy and side effects of the drugs we take. What is responsible for these potentially dangerous variations in drug outcomes? The human gut microbiome, the trillions of microbes living in our gastrointestinal tract, provides a likely culprit. In fact, it has been known for decades that the gut microbiome can directly metabolize drugs, in some cases producing downstream microbial products with an altered activity and/or toxicity.

However, attempts to translate these findings have been limited by a general lack of mechanistic insight into the metabolic activity of our resident gut microbes and their reciprocal interactions with the host. We are addressing this critical knowledge gap through the use of methods for the single cell analysis of gut microbial communities, metagenomic sequencing of microbial community DNA and RNA, and gnotobiotics (germ-free and colonized mice). Ultimately, we aim to obtain a more comprehensive view of human metabolism, yielding fundamental insights into host-microbial interactions and supporting translational efforts to predict and manipulate the metabolic activities of our resident gut microbes.