May 20th, 2021
We want you to get to know more about NFHC! Stay tuned as we provide short videos of our PIs and students. Get to know their lab, what they study, and how they complete their work.
Our faculty spotlight for May is Dr. Jeffrey A. French.
Dr. French's research focuses on the neuroendocrine regulation of social behavior, stress, and cognition in marmosets, an important translational primate model for human behavior and mental health. The closest genetic relatives of humans (chimpanzees and gorillas) are primarily fruit and plant eaters, but marmoset feeding ecology, like the typical human diet, consists of an omnivorous diet of animal protein (~ 25% of food intake), fruits and leaves (25%), and complex carbohydrates (50%). The marmoset gut microbiome likely has diversity and complexity similar to the human the human microbiome. There is an intimate communication between the gut and the brain (via the enteric nervous system, immune signals, and metabolic and appetite-regulating hormones), and this communication is modulated in important ways by the gut microbiome. The marmoset therefore has high potential as a transitional model between rodents and humans for exploring the ways in which normative or dysbiotic gut microbial communities contribute to brain function and ultimately to important psychological states. The complexity of marmoset brain structure and cognition provides a valuable endpoint for examining the links among diet-induced changes in the microbiome, alterations in neural function, and variation in behavior.