Vanessa Leone

Instructor of Medicine
Section of Gastroenterology
University of Chicago

Nearly all life forms possess a network of biological clocks, driven by a circadian transcriptional-translational feedback loop of proteins, which depend on the proper expression of a full complement of circadian “clock” genes. Circadian clocks are master regulators and integrators of host energy balance, behavior (e.g. sleep/wake cycles), and metabolic homeostasis. Not surprisingly, perturbations to circadian rhythms are accompanied by changes in metabolism, behavior and physiological functions. The main goals of my research are to determine how the oscillatory nature of the gut microbiome impacts host circadian clock function, influencing the host’s metabolic set-point in the context of diet-induced obesity. This concept was designed in response to my recently published work in Cell, Host, and Microbe, which was one of the first publications to identify that the gut microbiome exhibits diurnal patterns in structure and function that are tightly aligned with the host circadian system. Throughout my career, I have gained extensive training examining host-microbe interactions in health and disease states using animal models. Currently, as an Instructor at the University of Chicago, my work focuses on determining the mechanism of how gut microbes shape and maintain host circadian clock function. My main area of interest lies in determining the precise definition of a microbial oscillator versus a non-oscillator, how these factors impact the broader microbial community functional capacity, and what the underlying implications are for host physiological homeostasis.