Research

Our research focuses on the clinical application of nutritional sciences in healthy and diseased populations across the lifespan with an overarching goal of improving human health through dietary modulation of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

Through the use of state-of-the-art sequencing technologies and bioinformatics tools we aim to understand the interplay of diet, the microbiome, and health and disease in adult populations. Our long-term research goal is to bridge the gap in understanding of the impact of nutrition on the human gastrointestinal microbiome with an emphasis on targeted dietary interventions for disease treatment and prevention. To reach this goal, our laboratory has begun utilizing machine learning techniques and health informatics. We look forward to the possibility of utilizing these techniques in precision medicine efforts.

Current clinical research studies in The Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory include:

PATH: Persea americana for Total Health- The PATH Study is a research project aimed to study the relationship between diet, gut function, metabolism, and thinking ability.

EPOCH: Effects of Probiotics on Cognition and Health A study of how the gut microbiota responds to probiotics and prebiotics and how these changes affect behavior, cognition, and stress.

Gut-Brain- The study aims to investigate the interrelationship between cognitive function, metabolic health and the human gastrointestinal microbiota.

STREAM: Study of Timing and Rhythms in Eating Affecting the Microbiome- A retrospective examination of eating behaviors such as eating frequency, overnight fast duration, and energy distribution throughout the day and their impact on the gastrointestinal microbiome.

Fecal Microbiome Transplant Study- A multi-center longitudinal study investigating dietary predictors of fecal microbiota transplantation success in patients with Clostridium difficile infections conducted with Carle Hospital and OSF St. Francis Medical Center

Almond, Walnut, and Whole Grain Interventions- Randomized controlled trials assessing the impact of almonds, walnuts, and whole grains on the fecal microbiota conducted in partnership with the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center

Formulating Intervention Trials for the GUT (FITGUT)- An randomized crossover trial looking at the impact of physical activity on the gastrointestinal microbiota in previously sedentary individuals

Moving Toward Individualized Medicine: Understanding Dietary Predictors of the Human Gastrointestinal Microbiome- An evaluation of the complex interactions between dietary components, gastrointestinal bacteria, and bacterial metabolites conducted in collaboration with the Illinois Applied Research Institute

Mayo-Illinois Alliance Obesity Intervention- An intervention study investigating the effects of caloric restriction on the gastrointestinal microbiomes of overweight and obese adults

Retrospectively Studying the Effects of Early Life Nutrient Intake on Cognitive Function and Brain Health in Preadolescent Children (RETLU)- A retrospective study examining the effects of early life feeding methods on preadolescent brain health and cognitive function