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The human intestine is home to dense and diverse communities of microorganisms, referred to as the gut microbiota. Ushered by the revolution in “omics,” the microbiota is implicated in numerous health and disease states. Despite the growing recognition of the significance of the microbiota, there are fundamental aspects of the microbiota that are largely unexplored such as a higher order understanding of the interactions between the parts of this ecosystem: the individual members, the environment and host. A deep understanding of early-life, especially pre-term, gut microbial communities and the impact of nutrition is a scientific and public health priority. Preliminary findings suggest that cross-feeding and dependency on the carbohydrate enzymatic capabilities of co-resident members is an underappreciated means of survival in the gut. The goal of this study is to define carbohydrate-based interactions of early-life gut community members towards the goal of developing ecologically-rational, nutrition-based approaches to shape the neonatal microbiome towards health.

Institution:Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital
Principal Investigator: Seth Rakoff-Nahoum, MD, PhD
Amount Awarded: $30,000
Year Awarded: 2018

The ILSI North America Future Leader Award, given annually to promising nutrition and food scientists, allows new investigators the opportunity to add to an existing project or to conduct exploratory research that might not receive funding from other sources or add to an existing project. Consideration is given to individuals proposing research in the areas of experimental nutrition, nutrition and toxicology, and nutrition and food science. Grants extend for a period of 2 years at a funding level of $15,000 USD per year. Funds may not be used for overhead or to support the investigator’s salary.

View all Future Leader Award Recipients.