• Janelle Ayres, Salk Institute, USA

Janelle Ayres is a molecular and systems physiologist who uses evolutionary theory and microbes to understand how all our physiological systems and our brain interact with each other to promote optimal health. Ayres, who is a member of Salk's NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and holds the Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair, studies how our physiologies are regulated by microbes and understanding the mechanisms by which microbes promote our cooperative defense system represents a relatively unexplored aspect of host-microbe interactions that provide an opportunity to discover new, dynamic biological processes in health and disease with potential translational applications for treating a wide array of diseases including infectious and inflammatory conditions, and to promote healthy aging. She recently showed that giving mice dietary micronutrient supplements enabled them to survive a normally lethal bacterial infection and resulted in later generations of those bacteria being less virulent thereby eliminating the risk of future infections. She has also revealed how bacteria in the gut regulate feeding behavior by manipulating the gut-brain axis and how gut microbes promote muscle mass by promoting interactions between the immune and endocrine systems. In addition to being a Searle Scholar, Ayres has received a Ray Thomas Edward Foundation award, a Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, a DARPA Young Faculty award and, most recently, she was a recipient of  the National Institute of Health Pioneer award, a the W.M. Keck Foundation award and an award from the NOMIS Foundation for her novel research on host-microbe interactions and physiological health. 

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