For more than a decade, Dr. Aleksandar Kostic's research has combined computational and experimental expertise to probe the mechanistic relationship between the microbiota and human disease. His goal is to generate a high-level understanding of how the molecular interactions between the intestinal microbiome and the host regulate metabolism, with a particular focus on how this impacts maintenance of health or progression towards obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Kostic's background and training spans computational biology, microbiology, and immunology in equal measure. This unique skillset has led him to find novel associations and mechanisms linking metagenomics, immunity, and human disease. As a Harvard Medical School PhD student in the labs of Matthew Meyerson and Wendy Garrett, Dr. Kostic discovered an association between colorectal cancer and the gut microbe Fusobacterium nucleatum. They were successful in demonstrating a causal relationship, as they showed that F. nucleatum accelerated intestinal tumorigenesis by a mechanism involving altered immune cell recruitment to the tumor, which he established after developing a mouse model with a humanized microbiome.
As a Helen Hay Whitney fellow at the Broad Institute, Dr. Kostic worked with Ramnik Xavier and Curtis Huttenhower to characterize the developing infant gut microbiome in dense, longitudinal metagenomic analyses of birth cohorts at risk for type 1 diabetes as well as Crohn's disease. They demonstrated the first evidence and molecular mechanism by which the human microbiome directly influences immune development and progression to autoimmunity. In his new lab, composed of two postdocs and four PhD students, they took a multi-faceted approach to studying the microbiome by developing algorithms for metagenomic analysis, modeling diabetes in gnotobiotic mice, culturing diverse human symbiotic bacteria, and engineering these microbes using synthetic biology. His ultimate research goal is to develop new methods to diagnose and treat diabetes by deepening our understanding of the diverse functional capabilities of the symbiotic microbiota and their impact on our metabolism.
2008 Hon.B.Sc. Molecular Biology, University of Toronto
2013 Ph.D., Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Harvard University
2016 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard