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Molecular Virology Expanding Scope to Include Bacteria and Microbiome

August 01, 2012

One of Walther Mothes’ first acts as the new Co-Leader for MV was to recruit Andy Goodman and Martin Kriegel to lead the program’s new branch of research. Molecular Virology, with Dell Yarbrough as the established Co-Leader, is broadening its scope from studying only human tumor viruses to studying all infectious causes of human cancer including bacteria and the microbiome.

A direct relationship between bacterial infections such as Heliobacter pylori and gastric cancer, or bacterial DNA damaging toxins and gallbladder cancer, has been known for a long time. More recently, with critical insights coming from Richard Flavell’s laboratory here at Yale, it has become evident that a dysbiotic microbiome can increase the incidence of colon cancer. The microbiome likely also produces metabolites that can act as carcinogens and affect the outcome of chemotherapy. Thus, there is increasing evidence that the microbiome plays a role in cancer. Further research in this area is expected to provide new intervention opportunities.

Andrew Goodman, PhD, Asst Prof, Microbial Pathogenesis, a leading scientist of the microbiome, joins YCC with numerous awards under his belt including an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, Presidential award (PECASE), Pew Scholar, and YCCI Junior Faculty Scholar. In addition, he holds several NIH grants to study various characteristics of the microbiome, and is a prolific publisher with papers in Cell, Science and PNAS.

Martin Kriegel, MD, PhD, Asst Prof, Immunobiology, a former Research Fellow under Richard Flavell from 2003-2006, returned to Yale in 2012 after completing a Residency and Rheumatology Fellowship in Boston, exploring the sex differences of gut commensals in autoimmunity in the Benoist-Mathis laboratory at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kriegel’s lab is currently studying the role of gut and skin commensals in systemic lupus erythematosus and the related antiphospholipid syndrome in humans and mouse models. The goals are to identify chronic cross-reactive triggers within the microbiome and dissect host immune-commensal interactions – relevant to YCC when applied to questions on cancer pathogenesis.

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on August 07, 2017