Natalia Shulzhenko

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

My laboratory studies interactions between the immune system, metabolism and gut commensal microorganisms (microbiota) in mouse models and human diseases. Microbial cells exceed ten times the number of our own body cells and contribute to several physiological processes. With the advent of new genomic technologies, the role of microbiota in health and disease is a rapidly evolving field of research. We apply novel systems biology approaches such as network reconstruction to analyze host and microbiota simultaneously. Our recent work on chronic enteropathy in immune-deficient hosts revealed a crosstalk between the immune system, the microbiota, and the epithelial cells affecting both intestinal and systemic lipid metabolism. Using metagenomic sequencing, we plan to reveal the microbial players contributing to this disorder and to test them in a mouse model of this disease. In another project, we are studying adverse effects of antibiotics on the intestinal immune system and on microbiota and how this disruption contributes to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.