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Our lab quantifies the interplay between diversity and functional capacity in natural microbial communities.

Microbial genomes harbor tremendous diversity at the gene level even within closely related taxonomic groups. Microbes exchange DNA, with each other and with viruses, and can also take up DNA from other sources in the environment. Microbial ecosystems, therefore, are an evolving social network of interacting and mobile genes with the capacity for tremendous functional plasticity.

Broadly, we ask: what enables genetic mobility, or information flow, in microbial ecosystems between sympatric bacteria, archaea, small eukaryotes and phage and how does mobile DNA contribute to the evolution of systems-level community functions?

Specifically, we seek to understand why the same clinical intervention or condition -- for example administration of an anti cancer drug or infection with a pathogen -- can lead to different outcomes in individual patients. We focus on the role of the microbiome in clinical outcomes. To this end, we study the evolutionary and metabolic influence of mobile DNA pools, including phage, extracellular vesicles, and variability islands capable of rapidly moving through taxonomically diverse microbial groups.


We have positions available for:

Postdocs -

We are looking for a postdoctoral fellow with significant experience in computational biology to study functional diversity in natural communities of microbes. Application instructions here >>

Graduate students -

We are looking for PhD or MD/PhD graduate students who are interested in 1) studying the contributions of the commensal microbiome to energy acquisition and drug metabolism in the human body and 2) developing new computational techniques to study genetic exchange and community stability and structure using  large-scale genomics datasets. Apply via Graduate Programs in Biomedical Sciences at Einstein.

Advanced undergraduates -

 We also accept summer students via the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Einstein.

Many thanks to the spectacular and patient Dr. Mutsuko Yamada for getting this website off the ground!