Associate Professor Matthew Chang will focus on developing genetic and cellular platforms that can be programmed to precisely modulate the microbiome in response to specific disease states.
Many microbes, such as bacteria, live in a symbiotic relationship with us, either inside or on the surface of our bodies. This is most notable in the gut, where several types of bacteria work towards maintaining gut health and assist in the digestion of food. They also guide the immune response to the presence of harmful pathogens.
It is not uncommon for the balance between a microbe population, and its environment, to be lost. Indeed the loss of microbe homeostasis has been associated with medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and depression.
Maintaining microbe homeostasis is imperative to maintaining health. With the NRF Investigatorship award, Associate Professor Chang will work towards genetically reprogramming microbes to detect signals that indicate the health of their environment, and in response, initiate biological functions that impact the composition and function of the microbiome within that environment. In this way, the natural relationship bacteria share with their hosts will provide a therapeutic platform for the maintenance and restoration of health.