Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, has won the 2014 Passano Foundation Award for his pioneering studies demonstrating how the trillions of microbes that live in the gut influence human health.
The annual award, established in 1943, recognizes a scientist in the United States who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical science. The award focuses on work that has immediate clinical value or holds promise of a practical application in the near future.
In announcing the award, the foundation noted that Gordon’s discoveries have broad implications for 21st-century medicine and have fundamentally changed the way we understand human biology. His work has emphasized how humans are a composite of microbial and human cells and genes and that our microbial communities (microbiota) and their microbial genes (microbiome) endow individuals with attributes and capabilities that are not specified by their human genes.
Gut microbes play important roles in the digestive system, where they aid in digestion, guide metabolism and break down and synthesize nutrients and vitamins. Microbes in the gut also are thought to be highly influential throughout the body, where they help shape the immune system, the wiring of the brain and cardiovascular health.
Featured article originally published at Washington University Newsroom: Gordon wins Passano Foundation Award