My research interest focuses on the microbiome development from birth, functions for the host, impact by practices that reduce microbial transmission or disrupt the microbiota, and strategies for restoration. We also study how Westernization changes environmental microbes and human exposures, integrating the fields of anthropology and architecture/urban studies into microbial ecology.
1. Effects of C-section on development
The major goal of this study is to determine perinatal microbial factors that protect against or predispose to metabolic diseases and to type 1 diabetes. JDRF; Emch Fund; C&D Fund, CIFAR, SEBS-IFNH-Seed grant.
2. Effect of lack of direct breastfeeding on the infant microbiome development
The major goal of this study is to determine whether bottle-feeding maternal breastmilk introduces developmental changes in the microbiome of babies. Funds: Emch Fund; C&D Fund, CIFAR.
3. The microbiome of isolated peoples
Hunter-gatherer societies bring a unique opportunity as a proximities to pre-urban life practices (void of antimicrobial factors such as antibiotics, C-sections, excessive hygiene). This project studies the community structure and function of the bacterial populations in the body of traditional peoples, to understand their protective effect against modern immune and metabolic diseases. Funds: Emch Fund; C&D Fund.