Assistant Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine
Purna Kashyap, PhD's, research program aims to better understand the pathogenesis of functional gastrointestinal disorders and develop newer treatment options for patients. The current understanding of the disease process remains poor, and as a result treatment options are very limited and fail to address the underlying causes. They also hope to extend this knowledge to address other diseases associated with changes in human gut bacteria such as C. difficile colitis and obesity. The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract harbors 100 trillion microbes that live in harmony with their human host and perform processes vital for health. Changes in the normal gut microbiota have been associated with a number of disease states with changes in gastrointestinal (GI) motility, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Clostridium difficile colitis. The Kashyap laboratorys primarily focuses on the influence of gut bacteria on gastrointestinal physiology by modulating host pathways such as the serotonergic system. They use targeted and non-targeted metabolomics, transcriptomics, and genomics in combination with gnotobiotic mouse modelsto help identify novel bacterial taxa and microbial metabolites which affect the key players involved in gastrointestinal motility, secretion and sensation. In order to better understand the role of human derived gut microbes they use the humanized mouse model where colonize germ free mice with human derived bacteria to allow us to more effectively translate our findings and develop targeted therapies for humans. They have recently described the role of gut microbiota derived short chain fatty acids in increasing serotonin biosynthesis and release using these methods. The long-term goal of our research is to develop new biomarkers and microbiota-targeted therapies for treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore the Kashyap lab is interested in engineering commensal gut bacteria to produce a metabolite of interest, which will help overcome deficiencies in the current approach of probiotics.