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Bisanz and Connolly in the lab
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Bisanz named Huck Early Career Chair in Host-Microbiome Interactions

14 June 2024
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Jordan Bisanz

Jordan Bisanz, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State, has been awarded a Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Early Career Chair in Host-Microbiome Interactions.

“This honor named by the Huck family recognizes the story, mission and values of Dr. Bisanz as an exceptional microbiome scientist who brings committed collegiality, significant innovation and respected advice to our microbiome sciences community,” said Seth Bordenstein, director of the One Health Microbiome Center and Huck-endowed professor of biology and entomology. “His research impact, skillsets, award levels and contributions to fashion a research collaboratory in the One Health Microbiome Center are achievements that step up our collective growth, leadership and advances.”

Bisanz said he believes Penn State is uniquely positioned to emerge as a leading institution in microbiome science.

“We are at a very important inflection point in understanding the function of the microbiome where the focus is moving from correlation to causation,” he said. “Over the coming years, our goal is to continue to build infrastructure at Penn State that will allow for cutting edge microbiome research to solve fundamental problems facing society across the spectrum of one health.”

Bisanz’s research is focused on understanding the mechanisms through which gut microbes impact host health and disease through combining computational and experimental models relevant to real-world applications. His lab currently investigates how diverse host-associated microbial communities are developed and maintained to design synthetic variants as tools for microbiome manipulation. Additionally, the lab develops bacterial strain-collections to explore how bacterial diversity impacts drug-microbe interactions.

“While we understand that the human microbiome is important for health, we often don’t understand the how's and why’s,” Bisanz said. “As such, it is difficult to fix something if you don’t know why it is broken.”

Bisanz uses the broad diversity of microbes associated with humans as a tool for engineering microbial communities and leveraging that natural diversity as a tool for understanding microbial community function. The goal is to generate mechanistic understanding of host-microbiome interactions that can be translated into real world therapies and diagnostics. The Bisanz lab is currently focused on infectious and autoimmune diseases, and the drug therapies used to treat them to improve human health.

Santosh Girirajan, professor of genomics and interim head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, highlighted Bisanz’s achievement.

"I am proud and super excited that Jordan is being recognized with the Early Career Chairship,” said Girirajan. “He is not only showing a great promise in his research endeavors, but he has also become an important part of the larger community of microbiology and microbiome researchers in our department.”

Bisanz received his bachelor of medical sciences and doctorate in microbiology and immunology from the University of Western University Ontario. He then completed a research fellowship at University of California San Francisco.