Research Initiatives

 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are conditions characterized by inflammation that may occur throughout all, or parts, of the digestive tract. A major focus of CMiST will be the multi-disciplinary study of mechanisms leading to chronic intestinal inflammation, identification of interactions between environmental factors and different genetic loci with the microbiome and the exploration of potential microbiome-based therapies for this complex inflammatory condition. We believe that successful therapeutic interventions will require a holistic approach that takes into account the molecular pathophysiology of IBD, specific clinical parameters and both immune and nutritional status.

Disease focus: adult & pediatric IBD, colorectal cancer

Synthetic Biology & Therapeutics

A decade of research has emphasized the importance of the microbiome on human health and disease. Capitalizing on this interaction, recent efforts have sought to create microbiomebased therapeutics using fecal microbiota transplants, probiotics, elimination strategies or prebiotics. However, new approaches to microbiome based therapies and a more detailed and mechanistic examination of newer technologies must be performed. Further, to effectively translate this work into the clinic, there are numerous challenges that must be understood and the development of microbiome therapeutics have yet to be tested in a comprehensive fashion. Fundamental understanding of the forces that shape host-associated microbial communities and mediate host-bacterial interactions is essential for the rational design of microbiome therapeutics.

Disease focus: IBD, HIV/AIDS, infectious disease

 

Molecular Nutrition

The interactions of nutrition and the microbiome are highly complex. This is due to the plasticity and diversity of the microbiota within and across individuals, but also the highly influential nature of diet on the microbiome. The microbiome provides mechanisms that aid in energy recovery through the breakdown of poorly digestible nutrients, such as starch and other polysaccharides. This symbiotic activity influences host metabolism and gene expression. Therefore, application of new strategies to understand how dietary factors impact microbial and host metabolism are key to unlocking the potential for therapeutic discovery.

Disease focus: pediatric & adult non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, IBD, infectious disease

Art & Science

Art and science are more similar than one may think. Deep down both scientists and artists seek to answer the same big questions about life: why are we here, who are we? They both thrive on new innovations and technologies that help them to disassemble aspects of human life in order to discover the building blocks that are necessary for life. Despite these commonalities artists and scientists rarely come together to share their experiences.

Through Vivo Art, we will provide support and promote cross-disciplinary approaches and interactions between the UW scientists and artists. Through pop-up science & art exhibits, an artist-in-residency program, film screenings, workshops and speaker series, CMiST aims to cultivate the growth of partnerships between arts and sciences and to educate the community regarding the importance of the microbiome and nutrition to health.

Disease focus: obesity, IBD, diabetes