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DOM Announces 2016 Outstanding Early Career Scholar

Catherine Lozupone, PhD, will use her award to uncover connections between the human microbiome and inflammatory disease.

The University of Colorado Department of Medicine has selected the tenth recipient for its Outstanding Early Career Scholar Program, biomedical informatics researcher Catherine Lozupone, PhD. The program, which aims to accelerate the careers of promising researchers in the Department of Medicine, celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.

The Department of Medicine launched the Outstanding Early Career Scholars Program in 2012 to invest in talented researchers early in their careers, helping accelerate their career development. The program was designed to enable these promising individuals to devote 75% of their effort to research or other scholarly activities. Each recipient receives $75,000 annually for up to five years (including funds from the Department of Medicine and the recipient’s division) to support their research or other forms of career development and expansion.

Catherine Lozupone, PhD, is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Biomedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine. Her research focuses on the complex community of microorganisms that inhabit the human body (the microbiota), particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. She has been heavily involved in the development of very popular computational tools for microbial community analysis, such as the UniFrac algorithm for comparing microbial diversity among many samples using phylogenetic information. Her substantial publication record in human microbiota research includes studies of the relationship between gut microbiota composition and age, culture, diet, obesity, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Lozupone received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Villanova University, a master’s degree in Microbiology from Colorado State University, and a PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She runs an active R01-funded research group that integrates complex integrative bioinformatics analysis of multi-omic data with experimental confirmation, and collaborates extensively with many other researchers on campus. Her lab is currently working to understand microbiota composition and function in the context of a variety of diseases, with a strong emphasis on the interaction between diet, immune dysfunction, inflammation and metabolic disease in HIV-infected individuals. Lozupone will use this award to support development of methods to identify and test immune-modulatory molecular factors produced by bacteria that impact the relationship between microbiota composition and inflammatory disease.

“I’m extremely pleased about Dr. Lozupone’s selection for this award,” said Kathleen Barnes, PhD, who heads the Division of Biomedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine. “Her work has already been quite influential in the microbiology and bioinformatics fields, and taking the opportunity to help accelerate her career development is a great decision.”

A total of 10 recipients have been selected to date:

Catherine Lozupone, PhD (2016)
Steven Bradley, MD; Daniel Pollyea, MD (2015)
Brian Graham, MD; Sachin Wani, MD (2014)
Dan Matlock, MD; Eric Schmidt, MD; Rachel Zemans, MD (2013)
Larry Allen, MD; Mario Santiago, PhD (2012)

Applicants are selected from an unbiased, NIH-style study section composed of senior faculty outside of the Department of Medicine. Applications for this program are accepted each year in January.​