Precision health and the gut-liver axis
The Dong Laboratory is focused on the advancement of the clinical care of hepatology through translational research. In line with this goal, the lab conducts multidisciplinary studies at UCLA and at the West Los Angeles Veteran's Affair hospital in all aspects dealing with the gut-liver axis. The goal of the lab is to advance the understanding of the pathogenesis of obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease while at the same time creating new platforms to advance the field of precision health.
Current research projects
- Advancing precision health through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithm in the field of hepatology
- Understanding the interplay between the gut microbiome and adipocytes in the setting of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Using microbial biomarkers as a way to stratify HCC patients on immunotherapy
Funding and support
- NIH T32 Grant - Department of Veterans Affairs
- GI Fellowship Seed Grant - UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
In the news
- Medscape interviewed Dr. Dong on the link between liver injury and clotting disorders for COVID-19 patients.
Will earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at The University of Chicago. Following graduation, Will worked as a laboratory technician under Dr. Stephanie Dulawa for The University of Chicago and later the University of California, San Diego. His research, while in the Dulawa Lab, focused on epistatic modifiers of the BTBD3 gene and its role in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Will first learned about the microbiome while researching the effects of the gut-brain axis on psychiatric disorders, then decided to focus specifically on the microbiome upon arriving at UCLA. At first, he was a member of the UCLA microbiome core and contributed to the primary operations of the microbiome core by performing 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing of human and animal samples, as well as research involving transgenic animal models and co-cultures of microbes with epithelial/immune cells. He is now the current lab manager to Dr. Tien Dong's lab and has assisted in the growth and development of the Dong Lab. His current role is performing research exploring the effects of alterations in the intestinal microbiome on the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, alcoholic liver disease and depression.
Nicole Prause, PhD
Dr. Prause specializes in time series analysis, including biosignal processing and cognitive models. She will be working with Dr. Jihane N. Benhammou, Dr. Tien S. Dong and Dr. Arpan A. Patel on a number of clinical, translational and health services research projects in hepatology. Her past research has focused on decision making during alcohol intoxication using direct administration in laboratory studies, as well as other acute neural/decision shifts in reward sensitivity and reproductive cues. Dr. Prause completed her PhD in clinical science with a focus on neuroscience and statistics at Indiana University, Bloomington. She held a one-year internship at the Boston Consortium and a research fellowship in addictions at Harvard University, leading to a license as a clinical psychologist. .
- Dong TS, Guan M, Mayer EA, Stains J, Liu C, Vora P, Jacobs JP, Lagishetty V, Chang L, Barry RL, Gupta A. Obesity is associated with a distinct brain-gut microbiome signature that connects Prevotella and Bacteroides to the brain’s reward center. Gut Microbes, 2022. In press
- Hussain SK, Dong TS, Agopian V, Pisegna JR, Durazo FA, Enayati P, Sundaram V, Benhammou J, Noureddin M, Choi G, Ayoub W, Lagishetty V, Elashoff EM, Goodman MT, Jacobs JP. Dietary Protein, Fiber and Coffee are Associated with Small Intestine Microbiome Composition and Diversity in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis. In press. April 2020. Nutrients
- Dong TS, Mayer EA, Osadchiy V, Chang C, Katzka W, Lagishetty V, Gonzalez K, Kalani A, Stains J, Jacobs JP, Longo V, Gupta A. A Distinct Brain-Gut-Microbiome Profile Exists for Females with Obesity and Food Addiction. In press. Obesity
- Dong TS, Katzka W, Lagishetty V, Luu K, Hauer M, Pisegna J, Jacobs JP. A Microbial Signature Identifies Advanced Fibrosis in Patients with Chronic Liver Disease Mainly Due to NAFLD. Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 17;10(1):2771. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59535-w. PubMed PMID: 32066758; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7026172
- Basak SK, Bera A, Yoon AJ, Morselli M, Jeong C, Tosevska A, Dong TS, Eklund M, Russ E, Nasser H, Lagishetty V, Guo R, Sajed D, Mudgal S, Mehta P, Avila L, Srivastava M, Faull K, Jacobs J, Pellegrini M, Shin DS, Srivatsan ES, Wang MB. A Randomized, Phase 1, Placebo-Controlled Trial of APG-157 in Oral Cancer Demonstrates Systemic Absorption and an Inhibitory Effect on Cytokines and Tumor-Associated Microbes. Cancer. 2020 Feb 5;. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32644. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32022261
- Dong TS, Hui-Hua Chang, Meg Hauer, et al. Metformin Alters the Duodenal Microbiome and Decreases the Incidence of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Promoted by Diet-Induced Obesity. AJP-GI. 2019 Sep 23. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00170.2019
- Dong TS, Vu JP, Oh S, Sanford D, Pisegna JR, Germano P. Intraperitoneal Treatment of Kisspeptin Suppresses Appetite and Energy Expenditure and Alters Gastrointestinal Hormones in Mice. Dig Dis Sci. 2019 Nov 15;. doi: 10.1007/s10620-019-05950-7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31729619
- Hakimian J, Dong TS, et al. Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Reduces Opioid-Seeking Behaviors and Alters the Gut Microbiome. Nutrients. Aug 14;11(8). pii: E1900
- Dong TS, Jacobs J, Hussain S. Microbial Profiles of Cirrhosis in the Human Small Intestine. Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2019 Aug 23;21(10):50
- Dong TS, Jacobs JP. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and the Gut Microbiome: Are Bacteria Responsible for Fatty Liver? Exp Biol Med. 2019 Apr;244(6):408-418
- Dong TS, Kalani A, Aby E, et al. Machine Learning-Based Development and Validation of a Scoring System for Screening High-Risk Esophageal Varices. CGH. 2019 Jan 29. pii: S1542-3565(19)30072-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.01.025
- Dong TS, Gupta A. Influence of Early Life, Diet and the Environment on the Microbiome. CGH. May 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.08.067
- Jacobs, J, Dong T, et al. Microbiome and Bile Acid Profiles in Duodenal Aspirates from Cirrhotics: The Microbiome, Microbial Markers and Liver Disease Study. Hepatol Res. 2018 Jun 20. doi: 10.1111/hepr.13207
- Benhammou J, Dong T, et al. Race Affects SVR12 in a Large and Ethnically Diverse Hepatitis C Infected Patient Population Following Treatment with Direct Acting Antivirals: Analysis of a Single Center Department of Veterans Affairs Cohort. Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2018 Feb 22;6(2):e00379
- Dong T, et al. Metabolic Syndrome Does Not Affect Sustained Virological Response of Direct-Acting Antivirals While Hepatitis C Clearance Improves Hemoglobin A1c. World J Hepatol. 2018 Sep 27;10(9):612-621
- Dong T, et al. Rifaximin Decreases the Incidence and Severity of Acute Kidney Injury and Hepatorenal Syndrome in Cirrhosis. Dig Dis Sci. 2016 Dec;61(12):3621-3626
- Hu S, Dong TS, Dalal SR, Wu F, Bissonnette M, et al. The Microbe-Derived Short Chain Fatty Acid Butyrate Targets miRNA-Dependent p21 Gene Expression in Human Colon Cancer. PLoS ONE. 2011. 6(1): e16221. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016221 [Shared co-first authorship]
About Dr. Dong
Dr. Dong graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in biological sciences. He subsequently received his MD from the University of Chicago. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, where he stayed on as faculty for an additional year as a liver hospitalist. While at the University of Chicago, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Eugene Chang where he investigated the role of the gut microbiome on microRNAs and colon cancer. He then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2016 and continued his research training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph Pisegna and Dr. Jonathan P. Jacobs. He finished his PhD in molecular, cellular and integrative physiology in 2020. Dr. Dong is board-certified in internal medicine and in gastroenterology.
Dr. Dong's research interest involves machine learning and how the intestinal microbiome influences the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. His clinical interests include cirrhosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis and other chronic liver diseases.