Peter Turnbaugh, PhD
Bauer Fellow, FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, will be speaking at ISB on the topic:
Xenobiotic metabolism and resistance in the human gut microbiome
Our gastrointestinal tracts harbor complex microbial communities (the gut microbiota/microbiome) that encode a vast array of enzymatic activities, contributing to the metabolism of our diet and the drugs we take. Research over the past decade has emphasized that microbes are a key factor that shapes our health and predisposition to disease. Yet the molecular mechanisms responsible often remain unknown, making it challenging to translate these findings to new therapies and diagnostics, or to appreciate the broader biological, ecological, and evolutionary implications. As a tractable first step, my lab is focused on the microbial metabolism of and resistance to xenobiotics, including host-targeted drugs, antibiotics, and diet-derived bioactive compounds. These compounds are notable for their diverse chemical structures and effects on human and rodent physiology. Gut microbes are known to influence the efficacy and toxicity of >40 drugs through both direct and indirect interactions. We plan to use a combination of metagenomic sequencing, flow cytometry, and gnotobiotic mice (with defined or absent microbiomes). Our major goals are to: (i) elucidate the bacterial taxa and metabolic pathways involved in xenobiotic metabolism; (ii) determine how microbial communities adapt during exposure to xenobiotics; and (iii) test the relative importance of host, microbial, and environmental factors in shaping the bioavailability, efficacy, and toxicity of xenobiotics. Ultimately, we aim to obtain a more comprehensive view of human metabolism, yielding fundamental insights into host-microbial interactions, and supporting translational efforts to predict and manipulate the metabolic activities of our resident gut microbes.
PJT is supported by NIH-P50-GM068763.
Keywords: human microbiome, metagenomics, pharmacology, nutrition