Small molecules from microbes are used widely in the clinic as antibiotics, anticancer agents, immunosuppressants, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Our lab focuses on three emerging principles that are changing our understanding of which microbes make natural products, what roles they play in the biology of their producers, and how best to discover them: 1. Small molecules from the human microbiota – we have recently found that bacteria from a surprisingly underexplored niche — the human body — are prolific producers of drug-like small molecules 2. Computational tools for small molecule discovery – we have developed a computational algorithm that identifies small-molecule-producing genes in bacterial genomes, our tools have begun to provide the first global view of the small molecules produced by bacteria. 3. Using synthetic ecology to control microbiome metabolism – we are engineering gut and skin bacterial species to produce new molecules, and constructing synthetic communities whose molecular output is completely specified.

Awards and Achievements

  • NIH Director's New Innovator Award
  • Medical Research Award from the W.M. Keck Foundation
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award
  • NIH Director's Pioneer Award
  • HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholars Award

In the News