Program: Computational and Systems Biology
Current advisor: Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD
Undergraduate university: University of California-Berkeley
Undernutrition remains a persistent challenge globally and is linked to 45% of deaths of children under the age of 5. Intestinal abundance of Prevotella copri has been associated with increased weight for length Z-score (WLZ) in clinical studies of therapeutic foods for moderate acute malnutrition. We have developed a gnotobiotic mouse model of a defined microbial community consisting of bacterial taxa representing the developmental trajectory of the Bangladeshi microbiota of healthy children. When we assemble this microbial community with and without P. copri colonization, we note P. copri mediates beneficial effects on host metabolic state including weight gain and dietary energy harvest. Using a combination of molecular and computational approaches, I seek to understand how P. copri acts alone or in concert with other bacterial taxa to affect host metabolism and how changes in the microbial community may be leveraged to improve nutritional state in children with undernutrition.