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As it has become clear that gut bacteria play a pivotal role in human health, now is a critical time to focus on funding early-stage microbiome research projects. The Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center’s (GLMC) Seed Funding Program aims to support trainees of and encourage engagement with the center's core facilities.

The funding opportunities provided by the center will help to jump-start ground-breaking microbiome research at UCLA by providing awards to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty with GLMC mentors.

Seed Fellowship Awards

Early adversity and internalizing in middle childhood to adolescence: Gut microbiome and inflammatory mechanisms
Naomi Gancz, MA, PhD student, Department of Psychology
Fran Querdasi, MA, PhD student, Department of Psychology
Mentor: Bridget L. Callaghan, PhD, Department of Psychology
Funding: $30,000; September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024
Core usage: Integrative Biostatistics and Bioinformatics; Microbiome

Naomi Gancz

Naomi studies how early-life experiences affect the brain-gut-microbiome axis. Her work implements multiple methods, including MRI, electrogastrography, electrocardiography, and microbiome sequencing. She received her BA in psychology at the University of Chicago in 2019 before working as a study coordinator at the veterans affairs healthcare system in Pittsburgh, and is currently a doctoral student in developmental psychology at UCLA. She is especially interested in the interactions between microbes, hormones, and immunity and in the oral microbiome.


Fran Querdasi

Fran is a rising fourth-year doctoral student in developmental psychology with minors in quantitative and health psychology. Her program of research focuses on biopsychosocial mechanisms linking exposure to adversity in childhood with physical and mental health outcomes, particularly internalizing and chronic pain disorders. Her prior work has examined how adversity exposure in the preconception, prenatal, and postnatal periods influence development of the gut microbiome in early childhood as well as the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Fran plans to extend her research by characterizing gut microbiome-immune pathways that underlie connections between early life adversity and risk for poorer physical and mental health across the transition to adolescence.

Racial/ethnic disparities in cardiovascular risk amidst discrimination: A lipidomics, gut microbiome, and neuro-imaging analysis
Daniel R. Wang, MD, Department of Cardiology
Mentors: Arpana Gupta, PhD, Division of Digestive Diseases; Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD; Division of Digestive Diseases; Gilbert C. Gee, PhD, Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health
Funding: $30,000; September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024
Core usage: Biorepsoitory; Clinical Studies and Database; Microbiome; Neuroimaging

Daniel R. Wang, MD

Dr. Wang is a clinical cardiology fellow at UCLA Health. He received his BS from Columbia University and his MD from Weill Cornell Medicine before leaving for beautiful Los Angeles, where he completed his internal medicine residency at UCLA. His research interests center on Asian-American/Pacific Islander and Hispanic health disparities within cardiovascular disease, with emphasis on the intersections between structural, social, and individual determinants of health. Outside of work, he and his partner enjoy wandering LA malls, marathoning horror movies, and chasing after their puppy (Moose) and their pet rats (Tomato and Potato).