Cyrus Zhou

MSTP in PhD Training

Program: Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Current advisor: Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD

Undergraduate university: Johns Hopkins University, 2015

Enrollment year: 2017

Research summary
Understanding how food and microbes promote growth in malnourished children

My research focuses on leveraging our understanding of the human gut microbiome as a tool in treating childhood malnutrition. Previously, the lab has shown that the gut microbiome plays a critical role in regulating weight changes in both human and mice. The lab has utilized this knowledge to develop several carbohydrate-based food sources that alter both the gut microbiota and weight. I am specifically interested in understanding the mechanism behind this observation. Of particular interest is the role of bacterial enzymes that degrade carbohydrates. I hypothesize that there is a distinct set of bacterial carbohydrates degrading enzymes that affect host growth outcomes in the context of malnutrition. Using a combination of computational and genomic techniques, I seek to understand how these enzymes are linked to host physiology and how to leverage that knowledge in developing next generation food sources that are industrially scalable, more potent, and have more sustained or more generalizable effects in the treatment of malnutrition.

Graduate publications
Chen RY, Mostafa I, Hibberd MC, Das S, Mahfuz M, Naila NN, Islam MM, Huq S, Alam MA, Zaman MU, Raman AS, Webber D, Zhou C, Sundaresan V, Ahsan K, Meier MF, Barratt MJ, Ahmed T, Gordon JI. 2021 A Microbiota-Directed Food Intervention for Undernourished Children. N Engl J Med, 384(16):1517-28. PMCID: PMC7993600