Scientist honored for role in founding, leading field of gut microbiome research
Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, a world-renowned scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur International Award for his role in founding and leading the field of gut microbiome research. Together with talented students and colleagues, Gordon’s work has led to a fundamental shift in the way scientists understand the relationship between microbes, human health and disease.
The award recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to biomedical research in fields that profoundly affect global public health. In addition to Gordon, the 2017 award recipients are Michel C. Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, of The Rockefeller University in New York, and Antonio Lanzavecchia, MD, of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine at Università della Svizzera Italiana, Bellinzona, Switzerland.
“This award honors the dedication and extraordinary talent of the many doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, staff and collaborators who I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with over the years,” said Gordon, the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and director of the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.
Gordon’s lab has pioneered ways to dissect the inner workings of the community of trillions of microorganisms that colonize the human gut after birth. The goal is to identify groups of microbes that influence specific features of human biology. By colonizing animals raised under germ-free conditions with gut microbes recovered from humans representing different ages and health states, his group has been able to tackle the formidable problem of determining how these organisms affect us. Combining these models with human studies has created a pipeline for discovering how to recognize and repair abnormalities in the gut community.
“Given the challenge we face this century in generating sufficient quantities of affordable, more nutritious foods for a rapidly growing population, a key focus of our group has been to seek to improve health status through greater understanding of how gut microbes recognize and process components of the food staples we currently consume or could consume in the future,” Gordon said.