We are pleased to announce that the 2024 NCBC Microbiome Symposium will take place in person on Wednesday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, located at 15 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC.

We have an exciting day of presentations planned, including keynote speakers Drs. Martin J. Blaser (director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and the Henry Rutgers Chair of the Human Microbiome and Professor of Medicine and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey), and Maria Gloria Dominguez Bello (Henry Rutgers Professor of Microbiome and Health at Rutgers University).

The symposium will also feature poster sessions, networking time for trainees and the keynote speakers, companies and lunch.

This will be a great opportunity for researchers to reconnect with fellow academia and industry scientists. All attendees must register and purchase a ticket. If you would like to present a poster, please submit an abstract as space will be limited.


8:00-8:45 a.m. | Trainee event: Meet the keynotes for breakfast

8:30-8:50 a.m. | Registration, coffee, and breakfast for attendees

8:50-9:00 a.m. | Welcome – Casey Theriot, Associate Professor, NC State University 

9:00-10:15 a.m. | Session 1: Microbiome science in human health

Moderator: Tessa Andermann, Assistant Professor of Medicine, UNC at Chapel Hill

"Engineering probiotic yeast for controlled synthesis of drugs and vitamins in the gut" 

Nathan Crook, Assistant Professor, NC State University

"Intestinal microbiota and postnatal growth failure in extremely preterm infants"

Noelle Younge, Assistant Professor, Duke University

"Pharmacomicrobiomics: The Next Frontier of Precision Medicine"

Aadra Bhatt, Assistant Professor, UNC at Chapel Hill

10:15-10:30 a.m. | Refreshment break / Posters and networking

10:3011:45 a.m. | Keynote Speakers

Moderator: Matthew Redinbo, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor, UNC at Chapel Hill

"The Microbiome of the Anthropocene"

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Professor, Rutgers University

"Climate change in miniature: the changing human microbiome and its consequences"

Martin J. Blaser, Professor, Rutgers University

11:45-1:30 a.m. | Lunch / Poster session and networking

1:30-2:45 p.m. | Session 2: Microbiome science in agriculture and environmental health

Moderator: Claudia Gunsch, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University

"Microbiomes and antibiotics treatments influence reproductive health in honey bees"

Lexi Hoopman, Postdoc Fellow, NC State University/UNCG

"Microbiome and Environmental Exposure"

Kun Lu, Associate Professor, UNC at Chapel Hill

"Marine Microalgae for the sustainable production of food, feed and fuel"

Zackary Johnson, Associate Professor, Duke University

2:45-3:15 p.m. | Refreshment break / Posters and networking

3:15-4:15 p.m. | Session 3: Industry research in the Triangle

Moderator: Sunanda Dharmarajan, Venture Associate for Houston Angel Network (HAN) and as a Navigator for First Flight Venture Center (FFVC)

"The development of human primary culture systems to model intestinal inflammatory signaling"

Ben Scruggs, Chairman and CEO at Altis Biosystems 

"Microbiome modulation by a fermented oat postbiotic"

Mark Koenigsknecht, Director of Research at Verb Biotics 

Bacteriophages as potential tools for selective microbiome manipulation"

Hannah Tuson, Director of Research and Development at Locus Biosciences

"Udderly Innovative – A startup’s role in microbiome engineering"

Kathyrn Polkoff, Co-founder and CEO at HoofPrint Biome

"Enhancing bacterial therapeutic success by targeting the virome with CRISPR-Cas"

Matt Foley, Director of Academic Collaborations at Ancilia Biosciences

4:15-5:00 p.m. | Trainee event: Panel discussion – Tips on how to break into the RTP job market

5:00 p.m. | Closing & Adjournment

We'd Like to Thank Our Symposium Sponsors:

Duke Microbiome           NCSU CVM           


Novogene         Novonesis     

NCSU                        Premier


UNC Research


Free parking available.

Presenter and Keynote Information

Presenter Information

Nathan Crook

Nathan Crook, Ph.D. | Session 1 – Engineering probiotic yeast for controlled synthesis of drugs and vitamins in the gut

The Crook Lab develops new high-throughput experimental and computational genetic engineering techniques. In doing so, we hope to uncover novel biological phenomena and accelerate applied research and development in the broad areas of metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and microbial ecology. The ability to the gut microbiota to influence health has recently been uncovered, enabled by high-throughput DNA sequencing and animal models in which community composition is precisely controlled. Our goal is the development of foundational technologies by which engineered gut commensal ecosystems can be designed and assembled as a matter of practice, enabling the conversion of food into a healthy mixture of energy, nutrients, and therapeutics.

Noelle Younge

Noelle Younge, MD, MHS | Session 1 – Intestinal microbiota and postnatal growth failure in extremely preterm infants

As a neonatologist, Noelle Younge is interested in understanding early life host-microbiome interactions and their effects on infant health and development. In particular, her research focuses on understanding how the intestinal microbiome influences postnatal growth and nutrition among infants born extremely preterm. Her overarching goal is to develop microbiome targeted approaches to reduce postnatal growth failure and improve long-term outcomes of preterm infants.





BhattAadra Bhatt, Ph.D. | Session 1 – Pharmacomicrobiomics: The Next Frontier of Precision Medicine

Aadra Bhatt, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her lab is applying multidisciplinary techniques to study reciprocal host-microbiome interactions, particularly as they relate to host drug metabolism.


HoopmanLexi Hoopman, Ph.D. | Session 2 – Microbiomes and antibiotic treatments influence reproductive health in honey bees

Dr. Alexis Hoopman recently graduated with her doctoral degree from UNC Greensboro under the advisement of Dr. Kasie Raymann, who is now an assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Before moving to North Carolina, Dr. Hoopman got her BS in Biological Sciences from North Dakota State University where she worked with the USDA to investigate the impact of herbicides on honey bee sperm viability. Her Ph.D. research explored male honey bee microbiomes and how antibiotics used in beekeeping negatively impact honey bee reproduction. Dr. Hoopman is a proven activist for honey bee health sharing her research results and implications during invited talks for Beekeepers Associations across NC and was awarded the John T. Ambrose Student Researcher award in 2021 by the NC State Beekeepers Association. Her research has earned nearly $900,000 in grant funding which includes a USDA predoctoral fellowship, and a collaborative USDA grant with colleagues at NC State University. Dr. Hoopman is working for Dr. Raymann until August to submit her final papers while she will be applying to Biotech positions in the RTP and Triad areas. 

LuKun Lu, Ph.D. | Session 2 – Microbiome and Environmental Exposure

Dr. Lu is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Heath, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The overarching goal of Dr. Lu’s research is to better understand health effects of the gut microbiome and individual response. Dr. Lu studies how the gut microbiome interacts with broad environmental factors, how the microbiome affects disease susceptibility, and how host factors crosstalk with the microbiome to influence its response. His more recent interest focuses on the characterization of roles of metabolites regulated by the gut microbiome. He has published 108 peer-reviewed articles and served on a number of external scientific review panels/committees. Dr. Lu received the Best Publication Award from the Society of Toxicology in 2011 for his work using DNA adducts as chemical-specific biomarkers for risk assessment. He was awarded the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist Award in 2015 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He earned a BE, MS and Ph.D. in chemistry and material sciences from the Beijing University of Chemical Technology and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

JohnsonZackary Johnson, Ph.D. | Session 2 – Marine microalgae for the sustainable production of food, feed, and fuel

Dr. Zackary Johnson is the Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Molecular Biology in Marine Science at Duke University and is based at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC. He has degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering (MIT) and Botany (Duke). His team’s environmental microbial oceanography research is at the intersection of marine ecology and biogeochemistry and focuses on the marine cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, the most abundant phytoplankton in the open oceans. He also leads the Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC) – a group of academic and private institutions that is using applied phycology to develop marine microalgae for aquaculture. His group runs the Duke Outdoor Algae Cultivation Facility to evaluate different algae strains, cultivation practices and microbiomes in large-scale settings towards the sustainable production of feed, food, and fuel.

ScruggsBen Scruggs, Ph.D. | Session 3 – The development of human primary culture systems to model intestinal inflammatory signaling

Ben Scruggs, Ph.D. is the Chairman and CEO at Altis Biosystems. He is an experienced leader in the biotechnology industry and has been involved with building transformative healthcare companies across multiple therapeutic areas, including targeting interactions between gut microbiome toxins and intestinal inflammation. He also serves as a principal at Hatteras Venture Partners and a board director at Veralox Therapeutics and IMMvention Therapeutix.

KoenigsknechtMark J. Koenigsknecht, Ph.D. | Session 3 – Microbiome modulation by a fermented oat postbiotic

Mark’s interest in the microbiome has evolved over the course of his career, from studying controlled mouse studies to human clinical trials. He is the Director of Research at Verb Biotics, a company that develops biotic ingredients to improve human health. This talk will focus on Keystone Postbiotic™ which is a combination of probiotic strains fermented with oats. It is designed to promote the growth of keystone bacteria to support a healthy gut microbiome.

TusonHannah Tuson, Ph.D. | Session 3 – Bacteriophages as potential tools for selective microbiome manipulation

Hannah earned her B.S. in Biochemistry at Lafayette College, followed by her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her doctoral research in Dough Weibel’s lab focused on studying how bacteria sense and respond to their local environments. Hannah’s first exposure to microbiome research was during her post-doc under Julie Biteen at University of Michigan. There, she used single-molecule fluorescence imaging to examine the dynamics of proteins involved in starch capture and breakdown in the human gut microbiome bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. This experience sparked a new understanding of the high degree of interdependency among microbiome constituents, and a continuing interest in the role of the microbiome in human health. Hannah is particularly excited about the potential of bacteriophages to allow selective removal of key organisms while avoiding the detrimental effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

PolkoffKathryn Polkoff, Ph.D. | Session 3 – Udderly Innovative – A startup’s role in microbiome engineering

Dr. Kathryn Polkoff has spent more than 10 years working at the intersection of livestock and biotechnology. At Hoofprint Biome, Kathryn and the team are developing probiotics that eliminate methane from cattle while improving animal health and efficiency. The company recently closed a venture capital funding round, and Dr. Polkoff with her co-founder Dr. Scott Collins are backed by Bill Gates’ climate tech venture as Breakthrough Energy Fellows. Kathryn earned a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. from NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

FoleyMatthew Foley, Ph.D. | Session 3 – Enhancing bacterial therapeutic success by targeting the virome with CRISPR-Cas

Matt’s long-term interests are the use interdisciplinary approaches to define the underlying mechanisms of microbiome-associated diseases and use that information to create novel therapeutics. His graduate training at the University of Michigan introduced him to the gut microbiome and bacterial carbohydrate metabolism, which lead to and interest in how bacterial metabolites shape the gut environment. His postdoctoral training in the Theriot Lab at NC State University allowed for him to focus on bacterial bile acid metabolism and its regulation of C. difficile pathogenesis. Currently, he works alongside academics in the Barrangou Lab at NCSU and industry scientists at Ancilia Biosciences in NYC to help engineer enhanced bacterial therapeutics with CRISPR-Cas to overcome the barriers that bacteriophage pose to biotherapeutic engraftment and efficacy.

Maria Dominguez-Bello

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D. | Keynote Speaker – The microbiome of the Anthropocene

Professor Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., is the Henry Rutgers Professor of Microbiome and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where she is affiliated with the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), as well as a member of the Editorial Board and reviewer at several scientific journals. Her work focuses on understanding the impact of urban practices on the microbiome, as well as strategies for restoration. She is a founding member of the Microbiota Vault, a global initiative to preserve the diversity of the microbes relevant to human health and to educate and foster collaborative research with the global South to create microbiota collections in hotspots of biodiversity.

Martin Blaser

Martin J. Blaser, M.D. | Keynote Speaker – Climate change in miniature: the changing human microbiome and its consequences

Martin Blaser, a medical doctor specializing in Infectious Diseases, holds the Henry Rutgers Chari of the Human Microbiome and directs the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University. For more than 20 years, he has been studying the relationship of the human microbiome with asthma, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer with a focus on early-life events and the host-microbial interactions during development. He wrote Missing Microbes, a book targeted to general audiences, translated into 20 languages, and he recently served as Chari of the Presidential Advisory Council for Combatting Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) under 3 presidential administrations.

Poster Session Participants

NumberFirst NameLast NameTitle
1EricaBabusciThe Influence of Microencapsulation on Fungal Viability
2SamMcMillanMetagenomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic shifts associated with fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection
3Molly VanhoyStable isotope probing reveals foraging of host protein by unexpected microbial species in
the gut
4JessieMaierDetecting Genetic Transduction Events in Microbiomes
5RachelDuMez-KornegayKombucha Tea-associated microbes remodel host metabolic pathways to suppress lipid accumulation
6Amelia FoleyLeveraging the environmental microbiome via microencapsulation of PAH-degrading bacteria for improved bioremediation
7YelizavetaRassadkina Microbial competition determines requirement for a putative lipid transport operon in the human gut bacterium Phocaeicola vulgatus
8NonaHashemiA Machine Learning Microfluidic-based Framework for Rapid Profiling and Diagnosis of
Infectious Diseases in the Gut Microbiome
9NiveditaPareekThe UNC-CH Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research Program (IMeRP)
10NiveditaPareekThe Beneficial Effects of a Combination of Galacto-oligosaccharides and Bacterial Consortium on Clostridioides difficile Infection in a Mouse Model.
11AbbyGanczAncient dental calculus derived oral microbiomes as markers of disease in past populations
12KairiTanakaSimulation of gastrointestinal redox conditions to model gut microbiome dysbiosis: a proof of concept
13SamanthaKisthardtAmino acid availability alters the expression of the bile acid inducible (bai) operon in commensal Clostridia
14MichelleGrafAssociations between maternal fecal microbiome diversity and infant birth weight. 
15JennaHanlonComposition of bacterial communities and identification of potential pathogens in the San Juan Bay Estuary system
16AryanRazdanImproving the Colonization Properties of the Probiotic Yeast Saccharomyces boulardii via Mucus Glycan Metabolism
17ThomasHolowkaDietary protein-deficiency promotes intes:nal coloniza:on and transmission of mul:drugresistant
bacteria in mice with an intact microbiota
18CarlaSanchezA cultivation-centric multipronged approach enabling in vitro studies of human-associated
methanogens: Proof of Concept
19EvaKimGlucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) gene signaling affects the murine gut microbiome
but does not appreciably change lung microbiome or host health
20ChuangLiA consortia of clinical E. coli strains with distinct in vitro adherent/invasive properties establish their own co‑colonization niche and shape the intestinal microbiota in inflammation‑susceptible mice
21JunyaoGuThe relative importance of growth and mortality in shaping the dynamics of marine cyanobacteria across phylogenetic ranks
22AdrianGrafUnveiling the Impact of Microbiomes on Host Marine Microalgae in Open Raceway Ponds using Comparative Metatranscriptomics
23CatalinaCobos-UribeControlled Exposure to Wood Smoke Alters Low Abundance Taxa in the Human Respiratory Microbiome
24ElizabethHughesUtilization of phages for targeted depletion of Akkermansia from the gut microbiota
25MarkKowalewskiMucin-Degrading Glycoside Hydrolase Landscape in Gut Microbiomes in Health and IBD
26HiraWaheedFactors contributing towards performance of ammonium oxidizing enriched sludge
27LaurenMaurerSialylated Human Milk Oligosaccharide Processing by Microbial Sialidases in Early Gut
Microbiome Development
28SophieMillardPrior host exposure to matched microbiota improves success of fecal microbiota
transplantation for clearing Clostridioides difficile in mice
29EmiliaPanzettaA role for the gut microbiome in determining the rate of progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
30DishaBhattacharjeeDiversity of Anaerostipes in the gut
31WillStifflerSink Sampling: Exploring Microbial Diversity of Home Environments
32KaterinaTerwelpA Comparative Analysis of Species-Level Resolution Across Sequencing Platforms in
Low-Biomass Samples
33AlfredoBlakely-RuizDietary protein source strongly impacts gut microbiota composition and function
34MakenzieBonnerTPL2 kinase regulates REG3G production by the intestinal epithelium
35SeohoLeeAlterations in gut microbiota and fecal metabolites following propofol anesthetic are largely – but not
exclusively – due to effects of lipid emulsion
36HariKoneruCarbon source impacts microbiome structure in commercially relevant marine microalgae ponds
37SangmiJeongCervicovaginal microbial features are predictive of chlamydial ascension
38JohnBeckleyDevelopment of a CRISPR-Cas transposase system for in situ microbial genome editing
39McKenzieGrundyToward Probe-Enabled Proteomics to Identify Gut Microbial Bile Salt Hydrolases
in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
40ToddDesantisRepression of porcine respiratory pathogens with novel functional bacterial strains
For More Information

For questions or more information, contact:
Hannah Cole
Program Manager, Science and Technology Development Science and Technology Development 919-549-8840 | hannah_cole@ncbiotech.org



15 TW Alexander Drive

RTP, NC  27709

Not a PI or Senior Scientist - $40 | PI/Senior Scientist/Industry - $100
For More Information

For questions or more information, contact:
Hannah Cole
Program Manager, Science and Technology Development Science and Technology Development 919-549-8840 | hannah_cole@ncbiotech.org

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