Founding Director

Emeran A. Mayer, MD

Emeran A. Mayer, MD

Founding Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Mayer received his MD degree from the Ludwig Maximilian’s University in Munich, Germany, in 1976, completed his residency at the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, and his GI fellowship training at the UCLA/VA Wadsworth Training Program. Dr. Mayer has a career long interest in clinical and research aspects of brain body interactions, with a longstanding focus on the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut in health and disease. He is recognized as one of the leading investigators in the world of brain gut microbiome interactions in gastrointestinal disorders, including chronic visceral pain, functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, ingestive behavior and obesity. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1989.

He has been PI of a NIH Center grant on sex differences in functional GI disorders for the past 18 years, and PI on a NIDDK funded U01 consortium grant of brain bladder interactions for 18 years, co-PI on a grant by the Department of Defense on brain gut microbiome interactions in autism spectrum disorders, co-PI on a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation grant on brain-gut-microbiome signatures of stress-related IBD symptom flares, and co-PI on a NIH U19 consortium grant and a RO1 grant on brain gut microbiome interactions in Alzheimer’s disease.

He has published 401 peer-reviewed articles in the leading GI and neuroscience journals, including 100 reviews and book chapters and has co-edited three books. His articles have been cited 56,187 times and his h-factor is 121. He has published two books for the general public on brain gut microbiome interactions (the bestselling The Mind Gut Connection, and more recently The Gut Immune Connection) which have been translated into 14 languages.

Dr. Mayer has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Gastroenterological Association and the Ismar Boas Medal of the German Gastroenterological Association. He has been a regular member of the NIDDK CIMG study section from 2010-2015, has been president of the Functional Brain Gut Group, and associate Editor of Gastroenterology.

Co-Directors

Arpana “Annie” Gupta, PhD

Arpana Gupta, PhD

Arpana “Annie” Gupta, PhD
Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Director, Neuroimaging Core, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Ingestive Behavior and Obesity Program
Associate Professor
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Gupta completed a PhD degree in psychology, followed by an APA accredited clinical internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical Center. Her programmatic line of research focuses on the interactions between environmental and biological factors in shaping neurobiological phenotypes associated with stress-based diseases such as obesity. Broadly defined, her research aims to integrate two systems (the brain and the gut) in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms associated with obesity and altered ingestive behaviors. The application of a “systems biology” approach to her research allows her to test the interactions between multiple factors, both inside and outside the body (e.g., sex, race, brain, microbiome, inflammation, environment), in order to better understand the complex pathophysiology of obesity. This is relevant to obesity, as it is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and women. These alarming projections have led to NIH and Healthy People 2020 priority initiatives directed at reducing ethnic and sex disparities. Her goal is to develop a comprehensive model that provides a powerful and sensitive biomarker that will increase biological readouts of obesity and altered ingestive behaviors, thus bringing to the forefront those individuals who are at increased risk as a result of disadvantaged backgrounds.

In order to pursue this line of research she recently received a R01 grant from NIMHD (NIH) on the “Social Isolation and Discrimination as Stressors Influencing Brain-Gut Microbiome Alterations among Filipino and Mexican American.” She has also received several industry funded grants as PI and till date she has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles. These grants have allowed her to focus on the following main themes of research: 1) Investigate how novel pathways related to the brain-gut-microbiome (BGM) system may explain modulation of signals from the gut-microbiome on the brain via systemic immune activation; 2) Explain how risk factors associated with socio-cultural and environmental stressors “get under the skin” and are embedded in biology; 3) Identify subgroup differences (e.g., race and sex) related to obesity; 4) Model longitudinal patterns and changes across the lifespan as they relate to obesity in order to help predict risk factors leading up to the development of obesity while being able to identify prognostic markers and 5) Determine changes associated with various interventions (e.g., brain-targeted such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or gut-based such as specific diets) directed at altered ingestive behaviors and obesity.

Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD

Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology
Division of Life Sciences, UCLA College of Letters & Sciences
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Hsiao is De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Inspired by the interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Their discoveries have led to several honors, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres Career Award, Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in Neuroscience, Kavli Fellowship of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare and National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award. She received her PhD in neurobiology from Caltech, and her BS in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics form UCLA.

Jonathan P. Jacobs, MD, PhD

Jonathan Jacobs, MD, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Assistant Professor-in-Residence
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Jacobs graduated magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University with an AB in biochemistry. He subsequently received his MD from Harvard Medical School, graduating magna cum laude in a special field. During college and medical school, he trained in the laboratory of Diane Mathis and Christophe Benoist where he investigated the immunologic mechanisms of an autoantibody-mediated model of arthritis. This research was supported by a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and resulted in three first-author publications, including one in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Stanford University then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2010. He pursued additional research training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Jonathan Braun. He was awarded a PhD in cellular and molecular pathology in 2015 and afterwards joined the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases faculty. He co-founded the UCLA Microbiome Center in 2015 and now directs the Microbiome Core, which provides a comprehensive suite of microbiome-related services to support microbiome research by the UCLA scientific community.

Dr. Jacobs’ research explores the role of intestinal microbes in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other gastrointestinal disorders. This involves a translational approach that includes detailed characterization of patients’ microbiome by 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, metagenomics, and metabolomics as well as modeling of the effect of disease-associated human microbial communities in humanized gnotobiotic mice (i.e. germ-free mice colonized with human microbiota). His research has been published in a number of scientific journals including Gastroenterology, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gut Microbes, Genome Medicine, Scientific Reports, and Microbiome. He also authored a review article, commentary, and two textbook chapters on intestinal host-microbiome interactions. His ongoing projects employ animal models and multi’omics analysis of patient cohorts to define the role of IBD-associated genes in shaping the intestinal microbiome and to identify microbes and microbial products that promote IBD, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and other diseases.