Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, will lead an international team of scientists to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent a critical global health problem: malnutrition in infants and children. The work is funded by an $8.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gordon’s research first established a link between obesity and the trillions of friendly microbes that live in the intestine, where they extract nutrients and calories from food. His studies have shown that diet helps shape the mix of microbes in the intestine and that these microbes, in turn, influence how efficiently nutrients and calories are harvested from foods. This dynamic interplay has led Gordon to suspect that an imbalance of certain types of gut microbes conspires with an inadequate diet to trigger malnutrition.