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Gordon recognized for leading research on human microbiome

Award will aid efforts to understand gut microbiome and its effects on health, disease

April 7, 2016

Robert Boston

Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, has been recognized with a Thought Leader Award from Agilent Technologies that supports his research into the role of the gut microbiome in human health. His work has begun to uncover the complex relationship between the tens of trillions of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract, our health status and our disease risks.

Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The award includes funding and the most up-to-date instrumentation from Agilent — resources that will aid efforts to understand the dynamic operations of the gut microbiome and its effects on human health and disease.

“We are extremely grateful for this special award,” Gordon said. “It will have a catalytic effect on our ability to mine the gut microbiome for metabolic products that shape many facets of our human biology. Improving the nutritional status of infants and children, as well as adults, is a pressing global health problem during this time of rapid population growth and challenges to sustainable agriculture. We believe that characterizing the metabolic machinery of the gut microbiome is a key step in the discovery of new ways to diagnose and more effectively treat malnutrition, and in developing affordable, more nutritious foods that improve human health worldwide.”

Gordon and his lab have led the field in identifying and characterizing the microbial communities that live in the human gut, including the processes that guide the development of this “microbial organ” beginning from birth and continuing through early childhood. Gordon’s work also has implicated disruptions in the development of the gut microbiome as a causal factor in childhood malnutrition, a leading cause of death in children and infants worldwide.

The Agilent technologies will help analyze the metabolites produced by the gut microbiome and determine how they impact healthy growth of children. Importantly, they will help guide development of new gut microbiome-directed therapies that Gordon and his colleagues are creating. The equipment includes state-of-the-art mass spectrometers and software for large-scale data analysis.

“Dr. Gordon’s commitment to improving human health, especially that of malnourished children, is one that Agilent is proud to support,” said Todd Christian, Agilent’s senior director of global marketing and the award’s executive sponsor. “With this award, Dr. Gordon’s lab will be fully equipped to collect, analyze, identify and quantify essential metabolomics data, turning it into important scientific insights.”

Washington University School of Medicine‘s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.