Special MIG Seminar – Ran Blekhman – Monday 21st May, 2018

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Andrew Siebel


T: +61 3 8344 0707

Ran Blekhman

Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development & Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
University of Minnesota

Monday 21st May
Middle Theatre, Babel Building, The University of Melbourne

Population and Functional Genomics of Host-Microbiome Interactions

The composition of the microbial communities that colonize the human body varies widely across individuals and populations, and has been associated with numerous host traits and diseases. Although the microbiome is influenced by environmental factors, a strong host genetic factor is also expected to control the interaction between humans and the microbiome. Understanding the relative role of genetic and environmental factors in host-microbiome interactions is a central goal in human disease research. In my talk, I will describe research in my lab, which is based on the hypothesis that the microbiome can be considered a quantitative trait, and thus we can directly map host genomic factors controlling the variation in the microbiome, as well as identify individual host genes and pathways that are regulated by the microbiome. I will describe recent projects aiming to (1) identify host genes that are associated with microbiome composition in humans; (2) understand the causes and consequences of microbiome variation across diverse human populations; (3) characterize how the interactions between host genes and microbial taxa affect disease, with a focus on colon cancer; and (4) illustrate how variation in the microbiome affects host gene expression, and describe the regulatory mechanism involved. These studies shed light on the interplay between human genomics and the microbiome, and explain how this interaction affects complex human disease.

Ran Blekhman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, with a joint appointment in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Before joining the UofM in 2013, Ran was a Postdoctoral Associate working with Andrew G. Clark atCornell University. Ran holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago, where he worked with Yoav Gilad.

Enquiries: Andrew Siebel (asiebel@unimelb.edu.au)