Jennifer C. Stearns, PhD
Farncombe Family Chair in Microbial Ecology and Bioinformatics
Communication Officer for the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Our microbial partners, living on and within us, are essential to our health and provide us with countless benefits from food digestion to protection from pathogens. They interact intimately with our bodies, especially in the first years of life, educating the immune system, establishing metabolic set points and impacting developing gut physiology. Understanding healthy normal microbial colonization in early life is essential to the study of healthy infant development, as well as for the design of effective translational interventions aimed at the microbiota. Research in my lab aims to uncover the core processes, such as colonization, succession and stability, involved in microbial establishment within the human body. My approach involves human cohorts and animal models and uses molecular methods, microbial culture and bioinformatics, with the ultimate goal of understanding how the microbiota contributes to infant development and long term health.
Current Research Topics
Microbial community maturation within the context of a maturing host environment. My lab is developing and applying computational, molecular and culture based methods to study human associated microbial communities longitudinally.
Early infant nutrition choices on bacterial succession. By combining molecular profiling, with in vitro and in vivo experiments we are exploring how the infant diet helps to shape microbial communities.
Microbial contribution to early life origins of disease. By studying large populations of individuals we are connecting the gut microbiome and microbially derived metabolites in early life with evolving phenotypes of human disease, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and atopy.
I am currently accepting applications for undergraduate, MSc and PhD positions.
- Foley, KP, Zlitni, S, Denou, E, Duggan, BM, Chan, RW, Stearns, JC et al.. Long term but not short term exposure to obesity related microbiota promotes host insulin resistance. Nat Commun. 2018;9 (1):4681. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07146-5. PubMed PMID:30409977 PubMed Central PMC6224578.
- Whelan, FJ, Rossi, L, Stearns, JC, Surette, MG. Culture and Molecular Profiling of the Respiratory Tract Microbiota. Methods Mol. Biol. 2018;1849 :49-61. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8728-3_4. PubMed PMID:30298247 .
- Jarde, A, Lewis-Mikhael, AM, Moayyedi, P, Stearns, JC, Collins, SM, Beyene, J et al.. Pregnancy outcomes in women taking probiotics or prebiotics: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018;18 (1):14. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1629-5. PubMed PMID:29310610 PubMed Central PMC5759212.
- Stearns, JC, Simioni, J, Gunn, E, McDonald, H, Holloway, AC, Thabane, L et al.. Intrapartum antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis alter colonization patterns in the early infant gut microbiome of low risk infants. Sci Rep. 2017;7 (1):16527. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16606-9. PubMed PMID:29184093 PubMed Central PMC5705725.
- Wessels, JM, Lajoie, J, Vitali, D, Omollo, K, Kimani, J, Oyugi, J et al.. Association of high-risk sexual behaviour with diversity of the vaginal microbiota and abundance of Lactobacillus. PLoS ONE. 2017;12 (11):e0187612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187612. PubMed PMID:29095928 PubMed Central PMC5667760.
- Cavallari, JF, Fullerton, MD, Duggan, BM, Foley, KP, Denou, E, Smith, BK et al.. Muramyl Dipeptide-Based Postbiotics Mitigate Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance via IRF4. Cell Metab. 2017;25 (5):1063-1074.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.03.021. PubMed PMID:28434881 .
- Stearns, JC, Zulyniak, MA, de Souza, RJ, Campbell, NC, Fontes, M, Shaikh, M et al.. Ethnic and diet-related differences in the healthy infant microbiome. Genome Med. 2017;9 (1):32. doi: 10.1186/s13073-017-0421-5. PubMed PMID:28356137 PubMed Central PMC5372248.
- Simioni, J, Hutton, EK, Gunn, E, Holloway, AC, Stearns, JC, McDonald, H et al.. A comparison of intestinal microbiota in a population of low-risk infants exposed and not exposed to intrapartum antibiotics: The Baby & Microbiota of the Intestine cohort study protocol. BMC Pediatr. 2016;16 (1):183. doi: 10.1186/s12887-016-0724-5. PubMed PMID:27832763 PubMed Central PMC5103394.
- Pirbaglou, M, Katz, J, de Souza, RJ, Stearns, JC, Motamed, M, Ritvo, P et al.. Probiotic supplementation can positively affect anxiety and depressive symptoms: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Res. 2016;36 (9):889-898. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.06.009. PubMed PMID:27632908 .
- Stearns, JC, Davidson, CJ, McKeon, S, Whelan, FJ, Fontes, ME, Schryvers, AB et al.. Culture and molecular-based profiles show shifts in bacterial communities of the upper respiratory tract that occur with age. ISME J. 2015;9 (5):1268. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.49. PubMed PMID:25897775 PubMed Central PMC4409169.