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James B. Duke Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Director, Duke Microbiome Center

Research Summary

Dr. Rawls has focused his scientific career on understanding how host-microbe interactions in the intestine contribute to digestive physiology, inflammation, and energy balance. His lab uses gnotobiotic, in vivo imaging, genetic, and functional genomic approaches to determine how commensal microorganisms (microbiome or microbiota) interact with vertebrate hosts to regulate those processes. He pioneered the use of germ-free and gnotobiotic zebrafish to investigate the roles of microbiomes in vertebrate biology, and he currently uses zebrafish and mice to investigate the microbial signals and responsive host pathways that regulate host nutrition, inflammation, and gene expression. His lab also established methods for in vivo imaging of zebrafish adipose tissues, and they use them to explore the developmental and environmental factors regulating adipose tissue growth and physiology. Finally, the studies have been expanded to humans to define microbial species and metabolites that are associated with and potentially contribute to pediatric obesity and its comorbidities.

CGIBD Focus Area(s):  Microbiome

Pilot and Feasibility Award 2007

Collaborators:  David, Liddle, Magness, Redinbo, Roper, Sartor, Wang, Williamson