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Hiutung Chu


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021
  • Humans & the Microbiome




Hiutung Chu is a microbiologist and immunologist with a deep interest in understanding how commensal microbes communicate with the immune system in health and disease.

Chu’s research focuses on the principles underlying complex cellular signaling pathways engaged in sensing commensal microbes. Clinical and experimental evidence suggests that gut bacteria play a pivotal role in modulating immune responses. And countless studies have identified bacterial taxa associated with health and disease. To gain a mechanistic understanding of how the microbiome impacts intestinal homeostasis and human health, there is a need to integrate multi-omics approaches towards functional studies. Chu is interested in exploring strain variation within the human microbiome, and has discovered a wide range of genomic and phenotypic diversity within a species. This approach will enable a deeper understanding of the microbial genes and molecules that elicit a protective mucosal response, and will establish common principles that drive commensal-mediated intestinal homeostasis.

The Chu laboratory is investigating strain diversity of Bacteroides isolates from healthy individuals and inflammatory bowel disease patients to examine variation in immunomodulation. Taking an evolutionary and ecological approach, we aim to identify bacterial genes or gene variants associated with adaptation in an inflamed gut to explore if an inflammatory environment shapes a beneficial species towards a potentially pathogenic outcome. The laboratory is mapping genomic determinants in Bacteroides spp. that contribute to differentiation of anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells, and pro-inflammatory effector T cells to facilitate a better understanding of host-microbe interactions in health and disease.


  • Hartwell Investigator
  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award
  • Melvin Cohn Award
  • NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Relevant Publications

  • Chu, H., Host-genome microbiome interactions: molecular mechanisms in inflammatory bowel disease. Genome Medicine, 2017. 9(1):69. [PMCID: PMC5525272]
  • Chu, H., Khosravi, A., Kusuwardhani, I., Kwon, A.H.K., Vasconcelos, A.C., Cunha, L.D., Mayer, A.E., Shen, Y., Wu, W., Kambal, A., Targan, S.R., Xavier, R.J., Ernst, P.B., Green, D.R., McGovern, D.P.B, Virgin, H.W., and Mazmanian, S.K., Gene-Microbiota Interactions Contribute to the Pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Science, 2016. 352(6289): p.1116-20. [PMCID: PMC4996125]
  • Chu, H. and Mazmanian, S.K. Innate immune recognition of the microbiota promotes host-microbial symbiosis. Nat Immunol, 2013. 14(7): p. 668-75. [PMCID: PMC4109969]
  • Chu, H., M. Pazgier, G. Jung, S.P. Nuccio, P.A. Castillo, M.F. de Jong, M.G. Winter, S.E. Winter, J. Wehkamp, B. Shen, N.H. Salzman, M.A. Underwood, R.M. Tsolis, G.M. Young, W. Lu, R.I. Lehrer, A.J. Baumler, and C.L. Bevins, Human alpha-defensin 6 promotes mucosal innate immunity through self-assembled peptide nanonets. Science, 2012. 337(6093): p. 477-81. [PMCID: PMC4332406]

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