Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, won the 2014 Dickson Prize in Medicine for his pioneering studies demonstrating how the tens of trillions of microbes that live in the gut influence human health. The award is presented annually by the University of Pittsburgh to a leading American researcher engaged in innovative and groundbreaking biomedical research.
Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis.
“Dr. Gordon’s fascinating work has expanded our understanding of obesity in the Western world and childhood malnutrition in developing countries, and has the potential to stimulate new therapies directed at the human microbiome,” said Arthur S. Levine, MD, Pitt’s Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of Medicine John and Gertrude Petersen.
Gordon will be honored Oct. 2, when he delivers the Dickson Prize in Medicine lecture during the opening plenary of Pitt’s annual celebration of science and research.
The community of microbes in the gut helps break down
eat and synthesize nutrients and vitamins from our food. Gordon’s research has uncovered intimate links between diet, gut microbes and health, and laid the foundation for developing new ways to address two major global health challenges: obesity and malnutrition.
His work may also lead to new ways to assess the nutritional value of foods, in part on how the community of microbes in the gut respond to different foods.
Research in his lab provides a microbial view of human development during a child’s early years, including how the community of microbes in the gut gradually assemble and mature as children grow. This knowledge sheds new light on the healthy growth of infants and children living in diverse geographic environments and representing different cultural traditions.
Gordon received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his medical degree from the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in 1981 and has remained there ever since.
Gordon has received other honors including the Selman A. Waksman Prize in Microbiology from the National Academy of Sciences, the Robert Koch Prize, and most recently the Passano Prize. He is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
He has been the research mentor to over 120 PhD and MD/PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in the field of human microbial ecology research.