We are interested in developing chemical tools to understand the immune system and to probe the gut microbiome, a vast population of microorganisms that inhabits our intestines and plays a major role in regulating many aspects of human health and disease. To accomplish these goals, our lab employs biological and chemical approaches including the tools of chemical biology, molecular and cellular immunology, microbiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and cell biology.
We are colonized by trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, which inhabit the external and internal surfaces of our bodies. It is becoming increasingly evident that these microbes play an important role in regulating many aspects of host physiology, including host defense and immunity. As a result, perturbations to the populations of commensal bacteria have been linked to many inflammatory diseases, including autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory conditions, and susceptibility to infections by microbial pathogens.
Our research focuses primarily on three areas:
(1) We develop activity-based probes to understand the metabolic activity catalyzed by the gut microbiome during different disease states.
(2) We also characterize the small-molecule metabolites produced by the gut microbiota that regulate inflammation during inflammatory diseases and host defense during infection with enteric pathogens.
(3) Building on these discoveries, we develop chemical tools to modulate the immune response using photo-immune modulators to understand the roles of specific immune cell types in vivo.
We employ biological and chemical approaches including the tools of microbiology, chemical biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular immunology to elucidate key communication pathways between the gut microbiota and the host immune system. Our ultimate goal is to understand how immune homeostasis and host defense are regulated in the intestines, as such discoveries would have broad implications for the development of therapeutics and prophylactics for many inflammatory diseases.
See Google Scholar Page here.