Current Studies

Ongoing Research Projects

Recent evidence indicates that advanced age is associated with the changes to the diversity and richness of the gut microbiota and that these changes associate with prevalence of physical frailty.  Based off some intriguing preliminary findings, this project is attempting to further define the microbes and derived metabolites responsible for mediating physical resilience. This project is sponsored by an NIH R56 and is an ongoing collaboration between the Allen Lab and labs at UIUC (Woods), UAB (Buford) and Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Bailey).  

Psychological stress is associated with increased incidence and severity of bowel syndromes (IBS) and diseases (IBDs). However the mechanisms underlying these responses remain largely understudied. This project is attempting to unravel how gut epithelial cells, which we have shown to be highly sensitive to stress, may direct microbiota dysbiosis and predisposition to IBS/IBD.

Anxiety disorders currently affect over 40 million Americans, many of whom incur devastating social and healthcare costs. Our preliminary data provide evidence that stress induced disruptions to microbiota-derived tryptophan metabolites (indole carboxylic acids) contribute to CNS inflammatory processes that drive anxiety like behavior. The overall objective of this study is to investigate the unique role of the gut microbiota as a central mediator of stress-induced neuro-inflammatory processes that contribute to anxiety like behavior.   

Pending Grants/ Future Projects

A recent proposal (NIH RO1) submitted by the Allen and Woods lab aims to investigate how exercise-induced changes human microbiota modify our skeletal muscle metabolism. This is project is submitted as ancillary study to an NIH common fund (Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity [MoTrPAC])