University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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MICaB Faculty

Alexander Khoruts, M.D.


Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

University of Minnesota, 1989, M.D.

612-624-2101 office
612-626-4261 lab

Research Interests:

Microbiota-host interactions in health and disease

Intestinal microbiota is integral to mammalian physiology and plays important roles in the development and maintenance of the immune system, energy metabolism, and even nervous system function.  Over the course of the past century the human population in the Western countries has experienced exposure to antibiotics, markedly altered diet, and increasingly aseptic environment and lifestyle.  The full extent of the impact these changes have had on the composition and functionality is yet unknown, but they are hypothesized to have contributed to the emergence of many modern day problems such as autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, autism, and many others.  It is notable that similar disease trends are now apparent in the developing world and newly industrialized nations. 
One major consequence of antibiotic pressure experienced by host microbiota is emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.  This represents a growing tsunami-like threat to our health care system.  Over the past decade we have focused on one such pathogen, Clostridium difficile.  Infection with C. difficile commonly cannot be eradicated with standard antibiotics.  Our multi-disciplinary team has been one of the world leaders in development in approaches to normalize the intestinal microbial community structure by implanting donor microbiota into patients.  This therapeutic approach continues to be central to many of our research projects, which investigate and develop:

  • Next generation microbiota therapeutics
  • Mechanisms for how restoration microbiota therapies impact disease pathogenesis
  • The role of secondary bile acid metabolism in the pathogenesis of C. difficile infection and development of therapeutic bile acid derivative drugs
  • Mechanisms of host-microbiota interactions in energy metabolism
  • Microbiota-based therapeutics for inflammatory bowel disease

The fundamental philosophical principles of the laboratory include: (1) multi-disciplinary team science is essential for tackling real life problems; (2) while in vitro and animal models can be critical in research, ultimately we need to do interventional clinical trials in human patients.

Selected Recent Publications:

Complete publication list: