We are at the forefront of understanding complex relationships between bacteria and multiple parameters of health of the developing infant. Bacterial colonization of the infant intestinal tract and other barrier organs begins during the process of birth, and microbes and microbial metabolites interact with humans during fetal life. Humans have evolved over millennia to require interaction with microbes for competent immune development and metabolism, and novel functions are now being uncovered. Moreover, the establishment of the microbiome in the critical neonatal period is foundational for lifelong health and disease susceptibility.
Dr. Juliette Madan, pediatrician, neonatologist, physician-scientist and Clinical Director of the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth directs large-scale molecular epidemiology cohort investigations of human microbiome studies beginning in fetal life, in high risk populations (e.g. prematurity and cystic fibrosis) and in health. Her research program aims to rigorously test associations between microbiome and metabolome development and human health, and to apply this knowledge to the discovery of strategies for optimal health promotion in high risk populations.