Nicholas Chia, Ph.D.
Associate Director/Assistant Professor
Center for Individualized Medicine
Brief Biosketch: The most interesting and complex system a physicist can study is life. I am focused on understanding how we can predictively model the microbial-host interface to create better tools for diagnosis and prevention. My work involves the interface between microbial community ecology, bioinformatics, and metabolism. Identifying the fundamental rules of microbial community assembly play an important role in diseases ranging from C. difficile to colon cancer. It can even tell us why we seem to see attractor states in the microbiome, i.e., so-called enterotypes. My lab develops bioinformatics and mechanistic modeling tools in order to answer questions on a larger scale about the rules governing microbial community assembly and stability as well as how the central influencers of a microbial ecology affect toxin production and carcinogenesis in the colon.
Full Biosketch is attached at the end of the proposal.
Kalin Vetsigian, Ph.D.
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Brief Biosketch: Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution. At the same time, little in evolution makes sense outside the community context. Due to phenotypic interactions and genetic exchange, both selection and mutation pressures on organisms depend on what other organisms are around. To improve our understanding of the collective aspects of evolution, I study the dynamics of microbial interactions in natural and synthetic microbial communities. We are primarily focused on bacteria from the genus Streptomyces because they are prolific producers of secondary metabolites, which mediate interactions, and because the genetic determinants of these interactions are hierarchically modular and subject to horizontal gene transfer. My lab quantifies interactions and dynamics in multi-species microcosms, and develops multi-scale ecological models that reproduce aspects of the experimentally measured ecological and evolutionary dynamics.