Cowardin, Carrie A.
- BS, Biology, University of Virginia
- PhD, Microbiology, University of Virginia
- Postdoc, Microbiology, Washington University
Immunology, Infectious Diseases/Biodefense, Microbiology
The maternal and infant microbiome in childhood growth and immunity
My lab is focused on understanding how the maternal and early life gut microbiome interacts with the host immune system to influence child growth and immune development, with the goal of understanding critical host pathways that mediate healthy growth and developing probiotic therapies to promote healthy growth in underresourced settings. To this end, we have developed a model of intergenerational undernutrition using human microbial communities to colonize germ-free mice. Using this model, we have found that offspring derived from breeding pairs colonized with undernourished microbiota have altered growth and immune development when compared to offspring of breeders colonized with microbiota from a healthy donor. We plan to pursue these findings by identifying critical microbes that mediate these effects, clarifying when microbial colonization is most impactful on host growth, and investigating immune pathways that mediate microbial signals, with the goal of identifying specific microbial species and immune pathways for targeted intervention to reduce the global burden of undernutrition.