Tuesday, October 25, 2022

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM CT


Join Helen Vuong, Ph.D. virtually as she shares findings about how maternal gut microbiota plays a role in offspring brain function and behavior. Vuong is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.


Register here for the link to the Zoom Meeting.


Event Description:

Alterations of the maternal gut microbiome, in response to environmental challenges such as infection, altered diet and stress during pregnancy, has been increasingly associated with abnormalities in offspring brain function and behavior. Here we investigate how depletion, and selective reconstitution of the maternal gut microbiome influences fetal neurodevelopment in mice. Embryos from antibiotic-treated and germ-free dams exhibit widespread transcriptomic alterations in the fetal brain relative to conventionally-colonized controls. Depletion of the maternal microbiome yields offspring that exhibit altered sensorimotor behaviors. Metabolomic profiling reveals that the maternal microbiota regulates levels of numerous small molecules in the maternal serum and embryonic brains. Moreover, maternal supplementation with select metabolites abrogates deficiencies in fetal neurodevelopmental processes and prevents abnormalities in sensory behavior in offspring from microbiome-depleted dams. 


Helen Vuong earned her B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Nicholas C. Brecha at UCLA. During her graduate studies, Vuong investigated the anatomical and electrophysiological regulation of retinal microcircuits by neuropeptides, including somatostatin and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. In her postdoctoral research at Dr. Elaine Y. Hsiao’s lab, Vuong aims to elucidate the role of the maternal microbiome in fetal brain development, including modulation of neuronal connectivity, activity and function, and behavior.  As a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award fellow, she conducts research while pursuing her passion in education and outreach. Vuong received the NIH-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Pathway to Independence Award and recently started an Assistant Professor position at the University of Minnesota.


Sponsored by the Center for Promoting STEM.  For more information contact Gloria Liu at glorial@oakton.edu or 847.635.1738


  • Mario Borha
  • Suzanne Ziegenhorn
  • Bernadette Azadeh

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