PHILADFELPHIA - Christoph Thaiss, PhD, an assistant professor of Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the Science & SciLife Lab Grand Prize for Young Scientists. An essay by Thaiss on his body of research to date, published in Science this week, is part of his recognition. Thaiss' work addresses how the gut microbiome influences metabolic disease, and in turn, how a better understanding of this complex relationship can be applied to human biology, which he is actively pursuing at Penn.
Thaiss, who was recruited to Penn in early 2018 directly after completing his doctorate, has already made seminal contributions to his field. He discovered that the activity of the gut microbiome fluctuates on a 24-hour cycle, and that disturbances in these microbial oscillations can be linked to such metabolic disorders as obesity and high blood sugar.
In addition, he identified that the microbiome associated with obesity has "memory-like" properties, which can predispose animal models of obesity to weight regain after initial weight loss. He also found that high blood sugar directly causes the cells lining the gut to become more "leaky," which allows "bad" bacteria to enter once-safe areas of the gut. This sets off an out-of-place inflammatory response. His research in these mouse models is paving the way to prevent or treat metabolic disorders in people by altering the composition and function of the microbiome.
Thaiss received a BS from the University of Bonn, Germany, in 2010 and an MS in Immunology and Microbiology from Yale University and ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2012. He completed his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, in 2017.
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