Gut Microbiome Initiative

August 26, 2016

The Global Health Center, headed by William Powderly, MD, is working with the Center for Gut Microbiome and Nutrition Research, directed by Jeffrey Gordon, MD, and a multidisciplinary team of Washington University faculty, trainees and Tahmeed Ahmed, PhD, MBBS, at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, on a gut microbiome initiative.

Larry J. Shapiro Director, Institute for Public Health; Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Sciences; J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine, Director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS); Co-Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine

Dr. Gordon’s Center received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the “Proof of Concept Phase” of the Breast Milk, Gut Microbiome and Immunity Project, which hypothesizes that healthy growth in infancy and early childhood requires normal functional maturation of the gut microbiota.

In a study of birth cohorts in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Malawi, Peru, and South Africa, which represents diverse cultural and dietary traditions, it was found that children shared age-indicative bacterial strains as their microbiota develops. These metrics provide a way for defining healthy human development from a microbial perspective, specifically the characteristics of gut microbiota development in populations at risk for, or with already manifest undernutrition.

The goal is to optimize gut microbiota-directed complementary food-based (MDCF) interventions identified using the preclinical pipeline during the Project’s Jumpstart Phase, and advance the lead candidates into clinical proof-of-concept studies to treat, and most importantly prevent disorders arising from abnormal postnatal development of the gut microbiota in children with undernutrition.

Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Public Health, Brown School
Associate Vice Chancellor and Director, Center for Research Innovation in Business, and Professor of Radiation Oncology, School of Medicine
Enola Proctor headshot
Former Director, Center for Dissemination and Implementation at the Institute for Public Health; Director, Center for Mental Health Services Research and Shanti K. Khindka Distinguished Professor at the Brown School
Elizabeth A. Quinn headshot
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arts & Sciences
Professor of Practice, Brown School

This initiative will develop a roadmap to help advance the MDCF and therapeutics program by addressing the challenges of the long-term consequences of repairing the microbiome and how to accelerate the trial to disseminate successfully in multiple countries.

Learn more about our methods here.

Faculty, staff and trainees involved in this initiative are:

  • Michael Barratt, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Kevin Collins, MArch, JD, School of Law
  • Jake Eaton, PhD Candidate, Brown School
  • Jonathan Green, MD, School of Medicine
  • Paul Hippenmeyer, PhD, MBA, Office of Technology Management
  • Lora Iannotti, PhD, Brown School
  • Michael Kinch, PhD, Centers for Research Innovation in Biotechnology & Drug Discovery
  • Carolyn Lesorogol, PhD, Brown School
  • Alissa Ontiberos, BSc, Global Health Center
  • Enola Proctor, PhD, Center for Dissemination and Implementation
  • Elizabeth Quinn, PhD, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Rachel Sachs, JD, MPH, School of Law
  • Joe Steensma, PhD, Brown School
  • Jacaranda van Rheenen, PhD, Global Health Center
  • Colleen Walsh, MSTP Candidate, School of Arts & Sciences and School of Medicine
  • Jim Wertsch, PhD, McDonnell International Scholars Academy