Lora Hooper – Bacteria as Master Regulators of Metabolism

hooper-smDirector’s Lecture
“Bacteria as Master Regulators of Metabolism”

Lora Hooper, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Friday, July 14, 2017, 8 – 9pm
Lillie Auditorium
Lectures are free and open to the public.
Livestreaming at videocenter.mbl.edu.

INTRODUCER: Jessica Mark Welch, Associate Scientist, Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution, MBL

Lecture Abstract:

Humans and many other animals are home to enormous numbers of beneficial bacteria that profoundly influence health. The existence of beneficial resident microorganisms was first recognized in the late 1800’s by Louis Pasteur, who founded the field of medical microbiology. However, we’ve only recently begun to acquire a molecular understanding of how resident microorganisms contribute to our health. The Hooper lab has spent more than a decade studying how resident bacteria of the gut communicate with our own cells to shape our physiology, our development, and our ability to fight infectious disease. In my talk, I will discuss our ongoing efforts to unravel this important bacteria-to-human conversation. In particular, I will focus on our recent studies of how resident intestinal bacteria regulate mammalian metabolism.

Lora Hooper is a Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she holds the Jonathan Uhr Endowed Chair in Immunology. She is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2003 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Washington University and became Chair of the Immunology Department in 2016. During her fellowship training she became interested in interactions between intestinal bacteria and host cells in the mammalian gut. Her research team at UT Southwestern studies interactions between the intestinal microbiota and the immune system. The approaches used in her lab range from biochemical and structural approaches for understanding the molecular basis for intestinal immune responses, to mouse genetic approaches for identifying immune pathways that are important for maintaining host-microbial homeostasis. These studies are aimed at gaining a basic mechanistic understanding of how the immune system deals with symbiotic intestinal bacteria. More recently, her group has been exploring how the microbiota regulates metabolism and body composition. Her work is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Welch Foundation. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015.