Jeffrey I. Gordon

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Jeffrey I. Gordon
Bornc. 1947 (age 73–74)
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Oberlin College
AwardsCopley Medal (2018)
Scientific career
InstitutionsWashington University in St. Louis

Jeffrey I. Gordon (born c. 1947) is a biologist and the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis.[1] He is internationally known for his research on gastrointestinal development and how gut microbial communities affect normal intestinal function, shape various aspects of human physiology including our nutritional status, and affect predisposition to diseases.[2] He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Education and early career[edit]

Gordon received his bachelor's degree in Biology at 1969 at Oberlin College in Ohio. Over the next four years, Gordon received his medical training at the University of Chicago and graduated with honors in 1973. After two years as intern and junior assistant resident in Medicine at Barnes Hospital, St Louis, Gordon joined the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the National Cancer Institute as a Research Associate in 1975. He returned to Barnes Hospital in 1978 to become Senior Assistant Resident and then Chief Medical Resident at Washington University Medical Service. In 1981 he completed a fellowship in medicine (Gastroenterology) at Washington University School of Medicine. In the following years, Gordon rose quickly through the academic ranks at Washington University: Asst. Prof. (1981–1984); Assoc. Prof. (1985–1987); Prof. (1987–1991) of Medicine and Biological Chemistry. In 1991, he became head of the Dept. Molecular Biology & Pharmacology (1991–2004). Gordon is currently the Director of the Center for Genome Sciences (2004–present) at Washington University.

Gordon's early career focused on the development of cell lineages within the gastrointestinal tract. His laboratory initially combined the use of transgenic mouse models and biochemical approaches to elucidate the mechanisms of gut epithelial development along the duodenal-colonic and crypt-villus axes. Early studies also provided important insight into biochemical properties of lipid handling and transport in the digestive system. Dr. Gordon and colleagues later combined laser capture microdissection, and functional genomics to characterize specified cell populations within the gastrointestinal tract, including multipotent stem cells.

Gordon played a pivotal role in the study of protein N-myristoylation, a co-translational modification by which a myristoyl group is covalently attached to an N-terminal glycine residue of a nascent polypeptide. Gordon and his colleagues were instrumental in characterizing the mechanism by which N-myristoyltransferase (the enzyme that catalyzes the myristoylation reaction) selects its substrates and its catalytic mechanism.[3]

Gordon's group published a series of elegant studies that describe the ability of components of the commensal microbiota to induce specific responses in the host intestinal epithelium. One of these responses, the induction of intestinal cell surface fucose residues, is elicited by a prominent human intestinal symbiont, Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, which can harvest and use the host fucose as a carbon and energy source.[4] Gordon's group published a seminal study in which functional genomics were used to document the genome-wide intestinal epithelial response to microbial colonization of the gastrointestinal tract.[5] Dr. Gordon's laboratory has investigated epithelial cell interaction with human-associated pathogens, including uropathogenic Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Present research[edit]

Dr. Gordon and his laboratory are currently focused on understanding the mutualistic interactions that occur between humans and the 10–100 trillion commensal microbes that colonize each person's gastrointestinal tract. To tease apart the complex relationships that exist within this gut micobiota, Dr. Gordon's research program employs germ-free and gnotobiotic mice as model hosts, which may be colonized with defined, simplified microbial communities. These model intestinal microbiotas are more amenable to well-controlled experimentation.

Jeffrey Gordon has become an international pioneer in the study of gut microbial ecology and evolution, using innovative methods to interpret metagenomic and gut microbial genomic sequencing data. In recent studies, Dr. Gordon's lab has established that the gut microbiota plays a role in host fat storage and obesity.[6] Gordon and co-workers have used DNA pyrosequencing technology to perform metagenomics on the intestinal contents of obese mice, demonstrating that the gut microbiota of fat mice possess an enhanced capacity for aiding the host in harvesting energy from the diet.[7] A study of the microbial ecology of obese human subjects on two different weight loss diets indicate that the same principles may be operating in humans.[8] His group has applied the sequencing of bacterial and archaeal genomes to describe the microbial functional genomic and metabolomic underpinnings of microbial adaptation to the gastrointestinal habitat.[9][10] This approach has been extended to describe the role of the adaptive immune system in maintaining the host-microbial relationship.[11]

Dr. Gordon is the lead author of an influential 2005 National Human Genome Research Institute white-paper entitled “Extending Our View of Self: the Human Gut Microbiome Initiative (HGMI)”. In 2007 the Human Microbiome Project was listed on the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research as one of the New Pathways to Discovery.[12]

Selected honors[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved September 30, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Washington University News". Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  3. ^ Kresge et al., N-Myristoyltransferase Substrate Selection and Catalysis: the Work of Jeffrey I. Gordon. J. Biol. Chem. 2008
  4. ^ Bry et al., A model of host-microbial interactions in an open mammalian ecosystem. Science. 1996
  5. ^ Hooper et al., Molecular analysis of commensal host-microbial relationships in the intestine. Science. 2001
  6. ^ Backhed et al., Mechanisms underlying the resistance to diet-induced obesity in germ-free mice. PNAS, 2007
  7. ^ Turnbaugh et al., An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 2006
  8. ^ Ley et al., Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature, 2006
  9. ^ Sonnenburg et al., Glycan foraging in vivo by an intestine-adapted bacterial symbiont. Science, 2005
  10. ^ Samuel et al., Genomic and metabolic adaptations of Methanobrevibacter smithii to the human gut. PNAS, 2007
  11. ^ Peterson et al., IgA response to symbiotic bacteria as a mediator of gut homeostasis. Cell Host Microbe, 2007
  12. ^ NIH Roadmap Archived December 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b "Gordon CV". Lab of Jeffrey I. Gordon. June 26, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.

External links[edit]