Defining host-microbial interactions that lead to development of inflammatory bowel disease My main research interest is in the microbial-host interaction in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Because of this interest, I am working in Thaddeus Stappenbeck’s lab on the mechanism of the colitogenic potential of commensal bacteria in a genetically predisposed IBD mouse model. My core hypothesis is that the colitogenic potential of a given Bacteroides sp. is directly related to its ability to evade and penetrate host defenses such as mucus and the epithelial layer. I recently found that one such commensal, Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta) antigen accesses host immune cells in a sulfatase dependent manner. B. theta does so via a novel mechanism, outer membrane vesicles, which contain enzymatic properties. My current work is focused on the specific mechanisms of B. theta OMVs to traverse through the mucus and epithelial layer. I am using a combination of primary cell culture techniques, genomic screens, and genetic mouse models to pursue this question. Currently, I am supported with funding from the Pediatric Scientist Development Program to pursue a basic science project in my area of interest.