Dan Knights

How we study the microbes living in your gut

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About Dan Knights

Dan Knights develops computational methods for doing precision medicine with gut bacterial communities, or microbiomes, and he applies those methods to study human disease. Trillions of bacteria live in our guts, protecting us from infection and aiding our digestion, yet these communities are so complex that we need advanced computational methods to study them. In his multidisciplinary research lab Dan combines expertise in data mining and biology to learn about how modern lifestyles and medical practices are affecting our microbiomes and leading to increases in modern diseases. Dan received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Colorado, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dan has co-authored over 70 highly cited articles in top multidisciplinary journals. In 2015 he was named a McKnight Land-Grant Professor by the University of Minnesota. His lab is building a next-generation informatics pipeline for microbiome-targeted drug discovery, linking nutrition and microbial activity to clinical outcomes. 

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About This Talk

The trillions of bacteria that live in our guts not only aid in our digestion and protect us from infections, but they are also closely linked to some of the most challenging diseases of our time, such as obesity, diabetes, and autoimmunity. However, studying these complex gut bacterial communities, or microbiomes, demands advanced computational methods. At his lab at the University of Minnesota, computational microbiologist Dan Knights is developing such methods and applying them to the study of human disease. 

Dan and his team are specifically focused on how the diversity of gut microbes in primates varies depending on where they live, and how this diversity, or lack thereof, is directly linked to the diseases that afflict those primates. Watch Dan’s 2017 TEDMED Talk to learn how he's helping to develop the tools we'll need to restore and replenish our microbiomes as a means to sufficiently adapt to our surroundings and to keep us protected against disease.

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