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This week we profile a recent publication in mSystems from Sushmita Patwardhan (pictured, left), Christian Diener (right) and the laboratory of Dr. Sean Gibbons (middle) at the Institute for Systems Biology.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

We develop experimental and computational approaches for exploring and manipulating host-microbe systems.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Some people have a harder time losing weight than others. The current study, along with a growing body of evidence from other research groups, suggests that one of the major factors that modulate our ability to lose weight is our gut microbes. We’ve identified specific genetic signatures in the gut microbiome that were predictive of weight loss responses in a small cohort of patients following a healthy lifestyle intervention. Importantly, these associations with weight loss responses were independent of baseline body mass index (BMI) or metabolic health status. Furthermore, dietary, blood metabolites, and blood proteins showed almost no predictive power in determining weight loss responses, independent of BMI.

What are the next steps for this research?

Moving forward, we hope to validate our work in larger human cohorts in the next couple of years, and perhaps develop clinical diagnostics or interventions for people trying to lose weight.

If you’d like us to mention your funding sources, please list them.

This work was supported by an ISB Innovator Award and by the Washington Research Foundation.

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