Human Gut Microbial Ecology

Obesity and Bariatric Surgery



Our research on obesity and autism is based on microbes that live in our intestinal tract.  Recent evidence suggests that these microorganisms play an important role in nutrient acquisition and energy regulation and may contribute to obesity.  Through a partnership with Mayo Clinic Arizona, we are leading research in the obesity area, having published studies that revealed a link between differing microbial populations in the human gut and body weight among normal-weight individuals, those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, and patients classified as morbidly obese.  We hope to identify target microbes suitable as biomarkers indicating potential for weight loss and surgery success, or candidates for flora modification.  This will help develop therapies, enabling weight reduction and better health.





We are exploring similar differences in gut microorganisms between patients with autism and those not diagnosed with the disorder. With funding from the Autism Research Institute and the Bhare Foundation, we have found distinct differences in the microorganisms that inhabit the guts of autistic versus neurotypical.  Here, we also seek for disease biomarkers or candidates for flora modification. If the right ones are identified, this will have a huge impact on one of the most troubling conditions of modern society.

Team:  Daewook Kang, Zehra Esra Ilhan, Kapila Patel
Collaborators:  Andrew K. Marcus, Joshua LaBaer, Jin Gyoon Park, James Adams, Bruce Rittmann, John DiBaiseSarkis K. MazmanianRob KnightJack Gilbert, Catherine Lozupone, Greg Caporaso, Matthew Sullivan
Funding:  National Institute of Health (NIH) and Autism Research Institute (ARI)
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