Our aim is to better understand how the microbiota influences brain & behavior.



In line with the staggering statistic that our bodies are comprised of over ten times more microbial cells than human eukaryotic cells, it is becoming increasingly appreciated that

the microbes that make up “us” play a fundamental role in regulating brain development and function, and behavior.

Microbes modulate host production of neuroactive molecules, including neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, as well as the development of complex behaviors, such as social, communicative, emotional and anxiety-like behaviors. Alterations in the composition of the microbial communities that inhabit us are further implicated in a variety of neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, depression and autism.

Situated at the interface of neurobiology, immunology and microbiology, we are using integrative systems approaches to study fundamental questions in biology:

  1. What are the effects of the microbiota on the nervous system?
  2. How do resident microbes communicate with the nervous system?
  3. Which individual species or communities confer particular functional effects?
  4. How do microbe-nervous system interactions impact health and disease?
  5. What might be the evolutionary benefit for microbes to interact with the nervous system?

Overall, that microbes have the remarkable capacity to modulate neural activity and complex behaviors suggests that rational modification of the gut microbiota can serve as a tractable strategy for treating complex nervous system disorders.