By Lindsay Key
Duke scientists John Franklin Rawls, Ph.D., is among 65 new fellows elected to the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology. Fellows are elected annually through a highly selective peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.
There are over 2,500 fellows in the Academy representing all subspecialties of the microbial sciences and involved in basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service. The Class of 2021 is a diverse class and represents fellows from 11 different countries, including Australia, Canada, China (Mainland), France, Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Mexico, and Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Rawls, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the School of Medicine and leader of the Duke Microbiome Center, studies how host-microbiome interactions in the intestine regulate digestion, inflammation, and energy balance. By comparing zebrafish, mouse, and humans, his lab has uncovered conserved mechanisms of host-microbiome communication. His recent work showed that specialized sensory cells in the intestine called enteroendocrine cells perceive specific microbial products and communicate that information to the nervous system and the brain.
“This is a richly deserved honor in recognition of John’s pioneering studies developing the zebra fish as a model for studies of the microbiome,” said Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. “This honor also celebrates his discoveries of how the host senses and responds to microbes, microbial derived products, and nutrients, with broad implications for human health and disease. I am highly appreciative of all that John has brought to Duke, and in addition to his own research program, his outstanding collaborations with Rodger Liddle and Raphael Valdivia and others, and his leadership of the Duke Microbiome Center.”
Linfa Wang, Ph.D., professor in the Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School, was also elected into the Academy.
This story has been edited. The original was first published on the School of Medicine Blog.