John Franklin Rawls

John Franklin Rawls

Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Our research uses multiple complementary approaches to understand how host-microbe interactions in the intestine regulate digestive physiology and energy balance. First, my lab uses genetic, gnotobiotic, and in vivo imaging approaches to determine how commensal microorganisms (microbiota) interact with vertebrate hosts to regulate their nutrition and immunity, as well as the mechanisms underlying assembly of intestinal microbial communities. We utilize the zebrafish as a host model in which host and microbial cells can be viewed and manipulated a transparent living vertebrate. We have pioneered the use of germ-free or gnotobiotic zebrafish to investigate the roles of microorganisms in vertebrate biology, and we are using these methods to investigate the bacterial signals and responsive host pathways that regulate host immunity, nutrition, and gene expression. Second, my laboratory is utilizing the zebrafish system to investigate mechanisms underlying the formation and function of adipose tissues. We have developed methods for in vivo imaging of zebrafish adipose tissue, and we are currently using these techniques to explore the developmental and environmental processes regulating adipose tissue growth and physiology. In both of these fields, we have effectively used zebrafish and mice to model key aspects of human physiology and pathophysiology, and to gain new insights into underlying mechanisms.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
  • Associate Professor in Medicine
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 323A CARL Building Box 3580, 213 Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-7212
  • Email Address: john.rawls@duke.edu
  • Websites:

Education

  • Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, 2001
  • B.S. Emory University, 1996

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2016
  • Kavli Fellow. Kavli Frontiers of Science Program. 2009
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. Pew Charitable Trust. 2008
  • Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. National Institutes of Health. 2006
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual National Research Service Award. National Institutes of Health. 2002
  • Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Medical Scientist Fellow. Washington University School of Medicine. 2001
  • Victor Hamburger Prize in Developmental Biology. Washington University School of Medicine. 2001

Courses Taught

  • BIOLOGY 728B: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module Il
  • BIOLOGY 728F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
  • CMB 778B: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module Il
  • CMB 778F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
  • MGM 593: Research Independent Study
  • MGM 778B: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module Il
  • MGM 778F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
  • UPGEN 778A: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module I
  • UPGEN 778B: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module Il
  • UPGEN 778F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Yan, C; Do, D; Yang, Q; Brunson, DC; Rawls, JF; Langenau, DM, Single-cell imaging of human cancer xenografts using adult immunodeficient zebrafish., Nat Protoc, vol 15 no. 9 (2020), pp. 3105-3128 [10.1038/s41596-020-0372-y] [abs].
  • Holmes, ZC; Silverman, JD; Dressman, HK; Wei, Z; Dallow, EP; Armstrong, SC; Seed, PC; Rawls, JF; David, LA, Short-Chain Fatty Acid Production by Gut Microbiota from Children with Obesity Differs According to Prebiotic Choice and Bacterial Community Composition., Mbio, vol 11 no. 4 (2020) [10.1128/mBio.00914-20] [abs].
  • Armstrong, SC; Windom, M; Bihlmeyer, NA; Li, JS; Shah, SH; Story, M; Zucker, N; Kraus, WE; Pagidipati, N; Peterson, E; Wong, C; Wiedemeier, M; Sibley, L; Berchuck, SI; Merrill, P; Zizzi, A; Sarria, C; Dressman, HK; Rawls, JF; Skinner, AC, Rationale and design of "Hearts & Parks": study protocol for a pragmatic randomized clinical trial of an integrated clinic-community intervention to treat pediatric obesity., Bmc Pediatrics, vol 20 no. 1 (2020) [10.1186/s12887-020-02190-x] [abs].
  • Loh, NY; Minchin, JEN; Pinnick, KE; Verma, M; Todorčević, M; Denton, N; Moustafa, JE-S; Kemp, JP; Gregson, CL; Evans, DM; Neville, MJ; Small, KS; McCarthy, MI; Mahajan, A; Rawls, JF; Karpe, F; Christodoulides, C, RSPO3 impacts body fat distribution and regulates adipose cell biology in vitro., Nature Communications, vol 11 no. 1 (2020) [10.1038/s41467-020-16592-z] [abs].
  • Wen, J; Rawls, JF, Feeling the Burn: Intestinal Epithelial Cells Modify Their Lipid Metabolism in Response to Bacterial Fermentation Products., Cell Host Microbe, vol 27 no. 3 (2020), pp. 314-316 [10.1016/j.chom.2020.02.009] [abs].