Naomi Ward, “The role of gastrointestinal microbiota in Hirschsprung’s-associated enterocolitis, and the challenges of replication.”
Naomi Ward is an Associate Professor in Molecular Biology and Botany at the University of Wyoming, and Director of the Wyoming INBRE Bioinformatics Core. Naomi completed an undergraduate microbiology degree at the University of Queensland (Australia), and PhD work in planctomycete genome organization at the University of Warwick (UK) and the German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures. Following postdoctoral research in streptomycete genetics at Louisiana State University, she led microbial genome sequencing projects at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), prior to moving to the University of Wyoming.
Abstract: Research in the Ward laboratory is conducted on bacteria, and focuses on evolutionary cell biology and ecology. We have a particular interest in the unusual endomembranes of planctomycete bacteria, how these features evolved within the planctomycete lineage, and their functional consequences for the biology of the cell. Most of our ecology work is conducted within the human gastrointestinal tract, where we are examining the contribution of the gut microbiome to pediatric health and disease. Our primary focus is on Hirschsprung’s disease, a developmental defect of the enteric nervous system that often leads to enterocolitis, a serious inflammatory condition. Our work suggests that the primary developmental defect alters early microbial colonization of the gut, which may predispose these patients to enterocolitis. A future goal is to apply an improved understanding of these processes to the development of more effective clinical interventions.