This seminar will be held in the Neurological Institute of New York's Auditorium (1st floor). Columbia University's Intercampus Shuttle Service is the best way to travel between campuses.
The concept of gene-environment interactions, wherein genetic predisposition shapes one’s response to particular environmental exposures, is widely recognized in a variety of neurological disorders, but poorly understood. In particular, how are environmental exposures conveyed to genes, and how do they confer lasting effects on brain and behavior? The microbiota is well positioned at this intersection, as its composition and function are dependent on genetic background and shaped by environmental factors, including infection, diet and drug treatments. Moreover, changes in the microbiota have lasting effects on health and disease. For example, several diet-induced phenotypes are sufficiently mediated by changes in the gut microbiota; symptoms of atherosclerosis in response to a carnitine-rich diet, malnutrition in response to the Malawian diet and obesity in response to the “Western” diet are each recapitulated by transplanting the diet-induced microbiota into mice that are fed standard chow. Here we explore the effects of dietary alterations in the context of genetic susceptibility to neural dysfunction, using the ketogenic diet and epilepsy as a model system. We find that the microbiota is both necessary and sufficient for the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet across two mouse models for refractory epilepsy and further explore molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying microbial modulation of neuronal activity.
The gut microbiota is emerging as an important modulator of brain function and behavior, as several recent discoveries reveal substantial effects of the microbiome on neurophysiology, neurogenesis, blood brain barrier permeability, neuroimmunity, brain gene expression and animal behavior. Despite these findings supporting a “microbiome-gut-brain axis”, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie interactions between the gut microbiota and brain remain poorly understood. To uncover these, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating signaling pathways between the microbiome and sensory neurons, and examining the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment. Her research aims to dissect biological circuits for communication between the gut microbiota and nervous system, toward understanding fundamental biological pathways that influence brain and behavior. Her lab's work in this area has led to several honors, including the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in Neuroscience, National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare and National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award. Dr. Hsiao received her PhD in Neurobiology from Caltech, and her BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics from UCLA.
The Columbia Neuroscience Seminar series is a collaborative effort of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, the Department of Neuroscience, the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, and with support from the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.