Public Input Requested – Research Strategy on Environmental Chemicals and Human Microbiomes

The Committee on Advancing Understanding of the Human Microbiome will hold its third meeting on January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC.  This committee is charged with developing a research strategy to better understand the interactions between environmental chemicals and the human microbiomes and the implications of those interactions on human health risk.

Public feedback on the agenda is requested.


An ad hoc committee will develop a research strategy to better understand the interactions between environmental chemicals and humanmicrobiomes, including the intestinal, skin, and lung microbiomes, and the implications of those interactions on human health risk. The committee will assess the state of the science regarding the health implications of chemical metabolism by microbiota and chemical exposure on microbiota diversity and function. It will also assess what is known about how effects might differ depending on, for example, life stage or inter-individual differences.

The committee will then develop a research strategy that identifies the types of studies
needed to improve understanding of how different microbiome communities can affect chemical absorption and metabolism, how population variation in microbiome activity might affect individual chemical exposure, and the effect of chemical exposure on microbiome functions and possible implications for human health risk.  The committee will also identify methodological or technological barriers to advancing the field, discuss possible opportunities for coordination or collaboration, and indicate which research investments might provide the most information for improving understanding of microbiome implications for human health risk.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
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Committee Membership Information

Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown
Arizona State University

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown is an associate professor in Civil and
Environmental Engineering and is part of the Swette Center for
Environmental Biotechnology in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona
State University. She specializes in molecular microbial ecology for
bioremediation, the use of microbial systems for bioenergy production,
and the human intestinal microbial ecology and its relationship to
obesity, bariatric surgery, and autism. She is an author of five
patents and more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and has presented
numerous talks and posters at national and international conferences.
She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and completed her Ph.D. in
environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Ronald M. Atlas – (Chair) – (Chair)
University of Louisville Department of Biology

Ronald M. Atlas (chair) is professor of biology at the University of
Louisville. His early research focused on oil spills and
bioremediation. He later focused on the molecular detection of
pathogens in the environment, which informs the development of
biosensors to detect biothreat agents. Dr. Atlas has authored nearly
300 manuscripts and 20 books. He is a fellow of the American Academy
of Microbiology and has received the American Society for Microbiology
(ASM) Award for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the ASM
Founders Award, the Edmund Youde Lectureship Award in Hong Kong, and
an honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph. He has served as
a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and
Technology Advisory Committee, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration’s Planetary Protection Board, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation’s Scientific Working Group on Bioforensics, and the
National Institutes of Health’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee. He
has been served as the ASM president and is co-chair of the ASM
Biodefense Committee. Dr. Atlas has also served as a chair or a member
of numerous National Academies committees. He received his Ph.D. in
microbiology from Rutgers University.

Kjersti M. Aagaard
Baylor College of Medicine

Kjersti M. Aagaard is an associate professor in the Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Departments of Molecular and Human
Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Molecular Physiology and
Biophysics all at Baylor College of Medicine. She specializes in the
field of maternal-fetal medicine where her research interests include
both basic science investigations and translation into clinical
research. Specifically, she is interested in microbiome interactions
with preterm birth and in the role of the in utero environment and
epigenetics in fetal programming and development. Dr. Aagaard earned
her MD from the University of Minnesota Medical School at Minneapolis
and her PhD from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Dr. Elaine Hsiao
University of California, Los Angeles

Elaine Hsiao is an assistant professor in the Department of
Integrative Biology and Physiology and the Department of Medicine,
Digestive Diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her
research interests include the microbiome, neurobiology of disease,
neuroimmunology, and host-microbe interactions. Specifically, her
research explores the effects of the microbiota on the nervous system
and communication between microbes and the nervous system. Dr. Hsiao
also studies the particular functions of microbiome species and the
impact of modifying the microbiome on neurological disease. She was
awarded the De Logi Chair in Biological Sciences at UCLA and a
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award and was selected for the
Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Science & Healthcare.” Dr. Hsiao was also the
2013 Caltech Everhart Lecturer and served on the White House Office of
Science and Technology Microbiome Forum. Dr. Hsiao received her PhD in
neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Yvonne Huang
University of Michigan

Yvonne Huang is an assistant professor of internal medicine at the
University of Michigan in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care
Medicine. Dr. Huang’s research interests include the microbiome,
asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and interactions
between therapeutics and the microbiome. Her work on the respiratory
microbiome in asthma and COPD includes trials sponsored by the
National Institutes of Health. She was a Yale/Johnson & Johnson
Physician Scholar in International Health and served as associate
director of the adult cystic fibrosis program at the University of
California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Huang earned her MD from the
University of Alabama at Birmingham, trained in internal medicine at
Yale, and completed a fellowship in pulmonary/critical care medicine
at UCSF.

Dr. Curtis Huttenhower
Harvard University School of Public Health

Curtis Huttenhower is an associate professor of computational biology
and bioinformatics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
and an associate member at the Broad Institute. Dr. Huttenhower’s
laboratory worked extensively with the NIH Human Microbiome Project
(HMP) to identify and characterize the microorganisms found in
association with both healthy and diseased humans. In 2015, he co-led
one of the follow-up HMP2 Centers for Characterizing the Gut Microbial
Ecosystem in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He received a National
Science Foundation CAREER award in 2010 for his research on microbial
communities and was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for
Scientists and Engineers in 2012. Dr. Huttenhower was also awarded in
2015 the Overton Prize from the International Society for
Computational Biology. He is a member of the editorial boards for the
academic journals Genome Biology, Microbiome, and BMC Bioinformatics.
Dr. Huttenhower received his PhD in genomics from Princeton

Dr. Susan Lynch
University of California, San Francisco

Susan Lynch is an associate professor of medicine at the University of
California, San Francisco where she also directs the Colitis and
Crohn’s Disease Microbiome Research Core. Dr. Lynch’s research program
focuses on understanding the contribution of the human microbiota to
chronic gastrointestinal and airway inflammatory disease pathogenesis.
Specifically, her work focuses on the relationship between the
gastrointestinal microbiome and host immune status and disease
development. Her laboratory also studies the role of specific
bacterial species in both microbiota manipulation and
immunomodulation, particularly in the context of childhood asthma
development and in immune priming at sites remote from the
gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Lynch also works on the development of
novel high-resolution microbial diagnostic tools to examine the
diversity of organisms present in clinical samples. Dr. Lynch earned
her PhD at the University College Dublin in Molecular Microbiology.

Dr. William W. Nazaroff
University of California, Berkeley

William Nazaroff is the Daniel Tellep Distinguished Professor of
Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
at the University of California, Berkeley. His research group studies
the physics and chemistry of air pollutants in proximity to people,
especially in indoor environments. The group also works in the domain
of exposure science and stresses the development and application of
methods to better understand mechanistically the relationship between
emission sources and human exposure to pollutants. Dr. Nazaroff has
served as president of the Academy of Fellows in the International
Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate and president of the
American Association for Aerosol Research. For the Academies, he
chaired the Planning Committee for the Workshop on Health Risks of
Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter and served on the Committee on
the Effect of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality and Public Health
and the Committee on Air Quality in Passenger Cabins of Commercial
Aircraft. Dr. Nazaroff earned his PhD in environmental engineering
science from California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Andrew Patterson
Pennsylvania State University

Andrew Patterson is an associate professor of molecular toxicology at
Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Patterson studies the metabolism of
drugs and foreign compounds by the human body and how chemicals in
diets or nutrients derived from diets influence health and disease.
Much of his research involves the use of metabolomics tools. Dr.
Patterson was a Research Fellow of the National Cancer Institute, and
he served on the National Academies’ committee responsible for
planning the workshop “Getting the Most from Microbiome Research in
the Next Decade.” Dr. Patterson earned his PhD in genetics from the
George Washington University.

Dr. John Rawls
Duke University

John Rawls is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular
Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University, and Director of the Duke
Center for the Genomics of Microbial Systems. He has secondary
appointments in Duke University’s Department of Medicine, Center for
Host-Microbial Interactions, and Cancer Institute. Dr. Rawls’s
laboratory uses zebrafish and mouse models to study how intestinal
microbiota impact vertebrate health and disease. Dr. Rawls was
recognized as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Rawls
received his PhD in developmental biology from Washington University.

Dr. Joseph V. Rodricks
Ramboll Environ

Joseph V. Rodricks is a founding Principal of Ramboll Environ. An
expert in toxicology and risk analysis, Dr. Rodricks has consulted for
hundreds of manufacturers and government agencies and for the World
Health Organization in the evaluation of health risks associated with
human exposure to chemical substances of all types. Before Environ,
Rodricks served 15 years as a scientist at the US Food and Drug
Administration; in his last four years he served as Associate
Commissioner for Health Affairs. His experience extends from
pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer products and foods, to
occupational chemicals and environmental contaminants. He has served
on the National Academies’ Board on Environmental Studies and
Toxicology and on 30 boards and committees of the National Academy of
Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, including the committees that
produced the seminal works Risk Assessment in the Federal Government:
Managing the Process (1983) and Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk
Assessment (2009). Dr. Rodricks has nearly 150 scientific publications
and has received honorary awards from three professional societies for
his contributions to toxicology and risk analysis. Dr. Rodricks earned
his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park
and was a post-doctoral scholar at University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Pamela Shubat

Pamela Shubat is retired from the Minnesota Department of Health
Environmental Health Division where she supervised the work of the
Health Risk Assessment Unit. Dr. Shubat has worked in many areas of
risk assessment, toxicology, and exposure assessment. For example, she
has been involved in work on sensitive subpopulations and life stages
and drinking water contaminants. Her major responsibilities have
included research on fish contaminants; childhood lead poisoning
prevention; population-based exposure assessment; and rules for
groundwater contaminants. In addition to state work, she served as an
appointed member and chair of EPA’s Children’s Health Protection
Advisory Committee and has served as a peer reviewer for EPA projects
involving methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and risk
assessment practice. Dr. Shubat is also a member of the EPA
Federal-State Toxicology Risk Analysis Committee. She earned a PhD in
pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Brian Thrall
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Brian Thrall is an associate director in the Biological Sciences
Division, and Chief Scientist for the Health Impacts and Exposure
Science Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Dr.
Thrall has over 20 years of experience in leading research programs
focused on developing and applying systems toxicology and exposure
science strategies to elucidate, and ultimately predict, biological
response pathways modulated by exposure to environmental agents of
concern to human health. As director of PNNL’s Center for
Nanotoxicology, Dr. Thrall leads a multidisciplinary team that employs
state-of-the-art genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, and cell
imaging to understand receptor-mediated interactions between
biological systems and engineered nanomaterials. In addition, Dr.
Thrall serves as the Thrust Leader for PNNL’s
Microbiomes-in-Transition research program, which includes a focus on
developing tools and strategies to elucidate microbiome-exposome
interactions. Dr. Thrall earned his PhD in pharmacology and toxicology
from Washington State University.

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