Paula Watnick’s Laboratory is located in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital. We explore commensal and pathogenic intestinal bacteria, their interactions with the host intestine, their impact on intestinal innate immunity and metabolism, how they shape the trajectory of childhood development, and novel approaches to the prevention and treatment of intestinal infection.

We use Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, and commensal microbes to generate hypotheses in the genetically tractable model host Drosophila melanogaster, and then test these hypotheses in mammalian hosts.  Our focus is the development of strategies to amplify the beneficial effects of intestinal microbes and to prevent the deleterious effects.

The following projects are currently underway in the laboratory.

  • Control of host development and metabolism by intestinal microbiota.
  • Basic regulation of Vibrio choleraeĀ biofilm formation, metabolism, and virulence.
  • Interaction of Vibrio cholerae with the arthropod host intestine.
  • Use of human enteroids to understand how the intestinal environment impacts the virulence of intestinal pathogens
  • Development of a biofilm matrix-based vaccine platform.

We aim to create a supportive, diverse, and inclusive environment in which laboratory members are supported in the pursuit of their personal, scientific, and career goals unhindered by bias and microaggressions.

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The Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal: A region where cholera is endemic