Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology
University of Florida, USA
After completing my Ph.D. in Microbiology at the Univ. of Georgia in 1999 I received the cancer prevention fellowship from the National Cancer Institute. As part of this fellowship I obtained an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health in 2000. As a postdoctoral fellow I worked in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch and the Animal Carcinogenesis laboratory. I joined the faculty in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in 2003 as an assistant professor. I moved to the Univ. of Florida in 2007 and became an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology in 2012.
My lab is interested in determining causal associations between microbiota composition and various health outcomes. While my lab is using animal models for proof of principle studies, and human feeding studies to determine effects of dietary interventions on microbiota composition, we are most interested in performing prospective cohort studies in human populations. We have recently linked specific gut bacteria to the risk for having colorectal adenomas. Using advanced bioinformatics tools that we developed in house we determined that polyp prevalence is associated with a specific microbiota pattern. We are studying gut microbiota development in infants, especially in those born prematurely. My lab is leading the efforts to determine how distortions in microbiota development in preterm infants contribute to disease risks. We are also interested in determined how various foods affect microbiota composition and immune responses. As a novel approach for shaping microbiota composition, and an alternative to antibiotics, we are developing bacteriophage based approaches to modify microbiota composition. We are developing new bioinformatics tools required for efficient data mining in large microbiota datasets.