A new faculty member at Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Alex Kostic is focused on the gut microbiome as a lens with which to make insights into diabetes. His graduate and postdoctoral research in genomics has contributed to the establishment of associations between the gut microbiome and human diseases, including colorectal cancer and type 1 diabetes. Within type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, Dr. Kostic has worked to characterize the developing infant gut microbiome in dense, longitudinal metagenomic analyses of birth cohorts at risk for T1D. This work has provided the first evidence and mechanism by which the human microbiome directly influences immune development and progression to T1D.
The Kostic laboratory is interested in understanding the precise immunomodulatory effects of the diverse constituents of the symbiotic microbiota; specifically their impact on type 1 diabetes and related autoimmune diseases. The lab has 3 major research activities:
(1) Computational analysis of multi-omic data from large diabetes cohorts to identify microbial pathways altered in the disease state
(2) Engineering microbes via synthetic biology to perturb these pathways
(3) Therapeutic application of engineered microbes in germ-free mouse models of diabetes and their translation into therapies for patients.
In performing this research, the Kostic laboratory works to achieve two intertwined goals: (I) Advance the basic molecular understanding of the interactions between the microbiome and the host in the context of autoimmunity, and (II) Achieve results that will lead to new treatment options for patients with type 1 diabetes.