- Professor and Director
- Associate Dean of Research Operations
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Manitoba, 1982
B.S., Microbiology, University of Toronto, 1976
"At George Mason University, we are using state of the art Genomics and Bioinformatics tools to study problems in Molecular Ecology and Evolution. We are developing molecular techniques for the high throughput characterization of the interactions of bacteria, fungi, archae, protists in microbial communities, molecular systematics, and population genetics. We have recently developed a Multitag Sequencing methodology that allows us to perform deep sequencing on dozens of samples at one time. We are using this technology to reconstruct evolutionary histories of organisms, characterize microbial communities of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and analyze human and environmental diseases. We have recently established a MicroBiome Analysis Center at George Mason University to focus on the Molecular Ecology of the Human Microbiome and Environmental Ecosystems."
The focus of MBAC research is the study of dysbiosis of the microbial communities (microbiomes) that reside in the human gut, mouth, urogenital, and respiratory tracts, to model the homeostatic interactions between microbiome function and human-derived gene expression. We define these functions and interactions as the “metabiome” and this represents an example where biological data and computational tools are brought together in the multidisciplinary field called Systems Biology. It has now become apparent that the human microbiome is implicated in social behavior, reproduction, growth, cognition, as well as many diseases. The human microbiome is an integral component of the human ecosystem and is a major driver of the system. In fact, one could even say that the human host is there merely to propagate the “selfish microbiome.”
My educational focus is on Molecular Ecology, Bioinformatics, Genomics, Phylogeny, and Complex Adaptive Systems.