Research Overview

Recognition of the important roles human microbiota plays in health and disease has forcefully blurred the distinction between self and non-self. Remarkably, in the human body, about 90% of cells and 99% of genes are of microbial origin. These microbes occupy every inch of the surface inside and outside us, as well as act as the boundary between our body and the environment. The association between humans and microbes has adapted to eons of co-evolution. Intricate interactions have evolved to seamlessly integrate into our eukaryotic biological networks and ultimately become absolutely indispensable with functions such as polysaccharide digestion, vitamin synthesis, immune system maturation and disease resistance. A wide range of disorders, including autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndromes, infectious diseases, and cancers are found to be results of abnormal host-microbe relationships. My research goal is to analyze the complex interactions between host and the microbiota and to illuminate new ways of promoting human health. The approach to achieve this goal is to dissect the host-microbe systems into specific temporal and spatial compartments and focus on key events in this relationship. We ask questions not only about “what” and “how” but also about “when” and “where.” In line with these priorities, we study 1) how early microbial exposure modulates host development and 2) how mucosa-associated microbes direct host homeostasis.

About the Researcher

Dr. Dingding An received her bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University, China, and her master’s degree from Duke University. She pursued her Ph. D. study at Northwestern University and completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School.

Researcher Services

Researcher Areas

  • Host-microbe interactions

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Research Divisions

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Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. Zhang H, Guan M, Townsend KL, Huang TL, An D, Yan X, Xue R, Schulz TJ, Winnay J, Mori M, Hirshman MF, Kristiansen K, Tsang JS, White AP, Cypess AM, Goodyear LJ, Tseng YH. MicroRNA-455 regulates brown adipogenesis via a novel HIF1an-AMPK-PGC1a signaling network. EMBO Rep. 2015 Oct; 16(10):1378-93. View abstract
  2. Wang H, Ma H, Zheng W, An D, Na C. Multifunctional and recollectable carbon nanotube ponytails for water purification. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2014 Jun 25; 6(12):9426-34. View abstract
  3. An D, Oh SF, Olszak T, Neves JF, Avci FY, Erturk-Hasdemir D, Lu X, Zeissig S, Blumberg RS, Kasper DL. Sphingolipids from a symbiotic microbe regulate homeostasis of host intestinal natural killer T cells. Cell. 2014 Jan 16; 156(1-2):123-33. View abstract
  4. An D, Kasper DL. Testosterone: more than having the guts to win the Tour de France. Immunity. 2013 Aug 22; 39(2):208-10. View abstract
  5. Olszak, T.*, An, D.*, Zeissig, S., Vera, M.P., Richter, J., Franke, A., Glickman, J. N., Siebert, R., Baron, R. M., Kasper, D. L., Blumberg, R. S. (* equal-contribution first author). Microbial exposure during early life has persistent effects on natural killer T cell function. Science. 2012; 336(6080):489-93. View abstract
  6. An D, Na C, Bielawski J, Hannun YA, Kasper DL. Membrane sphingolipids as essential molecular signals for Bacteroides survival in the intestine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 15; 108 Suppl 1:4666-71. View abstract
  7. Siehnel, R., Traxler, B., An, D., Parsek, M. R., Schaefer, A. L., Singh, P.K. . A unique regulator controls the activation threshold of quorum-regulated genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci .USA. 2010 Apr 27;107(17):7916-21. 2010; 17(107):7916-21. View abstract
  8. An D, Apidianakis Y, Boechat AL, Baldini RL, Goumnerov BC, Rahme LG. The pathogenic properties of a novel and conserved gene product, KerV, in proteobacteria. PLoS One. 2009 Sep 25; 4(9):e7167. View abstract
  9. An D, Parsek MR. The promise and peril of transcriptional profiling in biofilm communities. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2007 Jun; 10(3):292-6. View abstract
  10. An D, Danhorn T, Fuqua C, Parsek MR. Quorum sensing and motility mediate interactions between Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Agrobacterium tumefaciens in biofilm cocultures. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 07; 103(10):3828-33. View abstract
  11. Landry RM, An D, Hupp JT, Singh PK, Parsek MR. Mucin-Pseudomonas aeruginosa interactions promote biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance. Mol Microbiol. 2006 Jan; 59(1):142-51. View abstract