John Franklin Rawls
Professor of Molecular Genetics and MicrobiologyOur 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
- Office Location: 323A CARL Building Box 3580, 213 Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710
- Office Phone: (919) 613-7212
- Email Address: email@example.com
- 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
- BIOLOGY 728F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
- CMB 778F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
- MGM 593: Research Independent Study
- 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 778F: University Program in Genetics and Genomics Biological Solutions Module VI
In the News
- Fatty Meal Interrupts Gut’s Communication With The Body, But Why? (Dec 17, 2019)
- Zebrafish Researchers Discover a Self-Defense Mechanism of the Gut (Aug 5, 2019)
- Microbe Scientists Launching Expanded Microbiome Center (Nov 20, 2017)
- Microbes Seen Controlling Action of Hosts Genes (May 17, 2017)
- Three Duke Researchers Named AAAS Fellows (Nov 28, 2016)
- A Little Dirt Won't Hurt You (Jun 17, 2016)
- Specific Fatty Acids May Worsen Crohn’s Disease (Sep 15, 2015)
- Gut Worms Protect Babies’ Brains From Inflammation (Jul 20, 2015)
- Duke-UNC Collaboration Creating "Gut-on-a-Chip" (Mar 30, 2015 | Duke Translational Medicine Institute)
- Gene may influence body shape, metabolic disease risk, study finds (Mar 24, 2015 | Fox News)
- New Gene Influences Apple or Pear Shape, Risk of Future Disease (Mar 23, 2015)
- Researchers Discover Molecular Trigger of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Feb 16, 2015)
- Microbiome Researchers Find Common Ground (Jan 8, 2015 | Duke Research Blog)
- Creeping Fat (Nov 20, 2014)
- MIcrobes R Us (Oct 23, 2013)
- Heppert, JK; Davison, JM; Kelly, C; Mercado, GP; Lickwar, CR; Rawls, JF, Transcriptional programmes underlying cellular identity and microbial responsiveness in the intestinal epithelium., Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, vol 18 no. 1 (2021), pp. 7-23 [10.1038/s41575-020-00357-6] [abs].
- Ye, L; Bae, M; Cassilly, CD; Jabba, SV; Thorpe, DW; Martin, AM; Lu, H-Y; Wang, J; Thompson, JD; Lickwar, CR; Poss, KD; Keating, DJ; Jordt, S-E; Clardy, J; Liddle, RA; Rawls, JF, Enteroendocrine cells sense bacterial tryptophan catabolites to activate enteric and vagal neuronal pathways., Cell Host Microbe (2020) [10.1016/j.chom.2020.11.011] [abs].
- Abdo, Z; Blaser, MJ; Gilbert, JA; Knight, R; Lozupone, C; Maas, K; Martiny, JBH; Metcalf, J; Methe, B; Mouncey, N; Mueller, NT; Rawls, J; Sung, AD; Whiteson, K; Zhao, L, Coordinating and assisting research at the SARS-CoV-2/ microbiome nexus, Msystems, vol 5 no. 6 (2020) [10.1128/MSYSTEMS.00999-20] [abs].
- Cholan, PM; Han, A; Woodie, BR; Watchon, M; Kurz, AR; Laird, AS; Britton, WJ; Ye, L; Holmes, ZC; McCann, JR; David, LA; Rawls, JF; Oehlers, SH, Conserved anti-inflammatory effects and sensing of butyrate in zebrafish., Gut Microbes, vol 12 no. 1 (2020), pp. 1-11 [10.1080/19490976.2020.1824563] [abs].
- 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].