Timothy Sampson, PhD

Assistant Professor

Emory University School of Medicine

Office: Department of Physiology

Email: timothy.robert.sampson@emory.edu

Additional Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Emory University School of Medicine

615 Michael Street, Whitehead Research Building, Room 644

Atlanta, , GA 30322

Biography

Education

2004-2008- B.S. Microbiology; University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences; Pittsburgh, PA 15260 

2008-2014- Ph.D. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Emory University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Atlanta, GA 30329

2014-2018- Postdoctoral Scholar; California Institute of Technology, Division of Biology and Bioengineering; Pasadena, CA 91125

Research Area: Microbiome-host interactions, particularly in nervous system function and neurodegenerative disease

Research

The microbiome is composed of trillions of individual cells and thousands of distinct species inhabiting every environmentally exposed surface of our bodies, and encode 100X more gene products than our own genome. These complex microbial communities play critical roles in host metabolism, immune responses, and neurological functions.

Our lab is largely interested in the impact of the microbiome in modulating the function of both the peripheral and central nervous system, particularly in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. Given the rise of association studies indicating altered gut microbiomes during various disease states, we seek to understand the consequences of this dysbiosis. We utilize gnotobiotic models, in conjunction with a host-pathogen approach to dissect contributions of individual microbes and their metabolites in order to identify contributing or protective factors to neurological outcomes.

Generally, our lab is exploring three broad pathways-

  • Many neurologically-active microbes and metabolites, with impacts on various aspects of brain function are known. How are these signals from gut microbes transduced to the brain? What are the cellular mediators of microbe-brain communication?
  • Dysbiosis is known to be associated with a number of neurological diseases, from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, to schizophrenia and autism. How do these altered microbial communities arise? Does brain activity affect the microbiome population? How do environmental risk factors for neurological disease influence the microbiome?
  • Amyloid pathology is central to many neurodegenerative diseases. Do microbial factors impact the likelihood of amyloid formation? Why do these evolutionarily conserved proteins form detrimental amyloid structures? Is there a critical role for amyloid formation in host physiology?

 

Publications