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Aadra Bhatt, PhD

Research evolves quickly and does not always follow a grand plan. For Aadra Bhatt, this flexibility led to finding her career passion.

An assistant professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Bhatt came to Chapel Hill in 2007 as a graduate student in microbiology and immunology. She never left.

“I just love it here,” Bhatt said. “I’ve felt so supported in my career at all stages, and when my current position was offered, I jumped on it because I can’t think of better colleagues or a better place to be.”

Although her training was in microbiology, Bhatt’s post-doctoral research involved chemical biology in the UNC Department of Chemistry. She became intrigued by gut bacteria, which are crucial triggers for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

“My investigation led me to think about the gut microbiome in a new way,” Bhatt said. “I wanted to see if we can manipulate the microbiome without antibiotics in order to help drugs work better for us by reducing side effects and increasing tolerability.”

Donors to Bhatt’s work are impressed with her resourcefulness and collaborative spirit.

“When a family member was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, we wanted to figure out what we could do to help,” one donor said. “We really wanted to help someone take the next step in their research in this area, and Aadra seemed so close to it. She’s enthusiastic, positive and works with the researchers in her area to share ideas – to me, collaboration in science is so much more productive than competition, and she embodies that.”

Read more from the UNC Health Foundation.