What are you Driven to Discover™?
I am Driven to Discover how specific diets impact gut microbiota functionality to develop evidence-based precision nutrition strategies for clinical conditions
What is the impact of your research in your field?
Harnessing the relationship between diet and microbiome function represents an opportunity to transform clinical nutrition management across the lifespan in the coming decades.
How can people see the impact of your research on everyday life?
We exist in a symbiotic relationship with our gut microbes, the composition and function of which have wide ranging health implications. Not only does the food we eat nourish us, but it also influences what nutrients are made available to our gut microbes. Our research has already influenced diet recommendations for management of gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, but we expect this list is just beginning to grow.
What drew you to your field of study?
A desire to harness what I believe to be the often overlooked potential of medical nutrition therapy to improve patient care and outcomes.
What is your favorite research/lab tool and why?
Collaborators. I have had the great fortune of being surrounded by brilliant people throughout my academic career, which has allowed me to successfully conduct bench-to-bedside research.
What do you consider to be your greatest research accomplishment?
Our work developing a molecular qPCR based test capable of differentiating methane production potential of the gut microbiota. This quick fecal test can serve as a valuable tool in clinical assessment of methane producing status, but more importantly, provides a foundation on which to develop additional qPCR based tests capable of characterizing functional capacity of the gut microbiota. The availability of this type of quick clinical test is crucial to collection of data on large cohorts of individuals.
What is your favorite part about teaching and mentoring students?
Their energy, enthusiasm, and new way of looking at research questions
What is your favorite food science or nutrition fact?
That Fruit Loops are all the same flavor. Still don’t believe it.