Toward Personalized Control of Human Gut Bacterial Communities


A key challenge in microbiology will be developing tools for manipulating human gut bacterial communities. Our ability to predict and control the dynamics of these communities is now in its infancy. To manage human gut microbiota, I am developing methods in three research domains. First, I am refining in vitro tools to experimentally study gut microbes at high throughput and in controlled settings. Second, I am adapting “big data” techniques to overcome statistical challenges confronting microbiota modeling. Third, I am testing study designs that can streamline human testing of microbiota manipulations. Assembling these methods creates new challenges, including training scientists who can work across disciplines such as engineering, ecology, and medicine. Nevertheless, I envision that overcoming these obstacles will enable my group to construct platforms that can personalize microbiota treatments, particularly ones based on diet. More broadly, I anticipate that such platforms will have applications across fields such as agriculture, biotechnology, and environmental management.

mSystems® vol. 3, no. 2, is a special issue sponsored by Janssen Human Microbiome Institute (JHMI).