Fundamental Biological Factors Underlying Human Performance: From Molecular Diagnostics and Detection to Behavior and Systems Biology

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In collaboration with researchers at MIT (Lauffenburger) and ERDC (Perkins, Vinas) we are using zebrafish as a model organism for studying gut microbiome-brain interactions, with a focus on how the chemistry of the gut microbiome affects organism behavior, including sleep patterns and stress. Zebrafish provide an outstanding platform due to their maturity as a model organism as well as their transparent state as an embryo, allowing imaging of gut microbes and other biological features.

Project participants:

Additional participants:

  • Grigorios Oikonomou


  • David Prober (Caltech BBE)
  • Doug Lauffenburger (MIT)
  • Ed Perkins (Army ERDC)


Caltech's portion of the project focuses on two primary tasks:

  1. The influence of gut microbiome on brain function: Diagnostics and logging of microbiotic environments in organisms. This effort will investigate how to diagnose and monitor disruption of the composition and function of the gut microbiota, which is an important pathophysiological factor in a variety of physiological disorders associated with animal and human microbiota.
  2. The influence of gut microbiome/brain interactions on the systems biology of performance. This effort will investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying microbiota-brain interactions through which gut microbiomes can modulate host behaviors and neurophysiological processes.


This research is supported by the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through contract W911NF-19-D-0001 from the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of the information on this page does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

  • Agency: Army Research Office
  • Grant number: W911NF-19-D-0001
  • Start date: 14 Feb 2019
  • End date: 31 Dec 2021
  • Support: 1 postdoc, 2 graduate students, research technician
  • Reporting: Annually