Press Release June 29, 2015

Microbiome researcher Julia Oh, Ph.D., joins The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine faculty

Farmington, Conn. – Julia Oh, Ph.D., a scientist who studies the human microbiome—the diverse bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit our bodies—for its potential to deliver treatments for infectious and other diseases, has joined The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine faculty as an assistant professor.

Oh earned her B.A. in biology from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in genetics at Stanford University with renowned genomicist and technologist Ronald Davis, Ph.D. Since 2010, she has been a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Julia Segre, Ph.D. at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health.

Oh’s research to date has produced seminal findings on the microbial communities of the human skin. Studying the complex interactions between the host, its immune system and its microbes, her work has important implications for the contribution of the microbiome to disease. Oh’s research can be found in Nature, Nature Medicine, Genome Research, Genome Medicine and other top-tier journals. In 2013, she received the BioMed Central Research Award in Microbiology and Immunology for her work on human skin microbiota, and in 2014 was named one of the top postdoctoral fellows at the NHGRI.

After joining The Jackson Laboratory on July 15, Oh plans to use information gained from sequence-based reconstructions of human microbial communities (metagenomics) to engineer new, targeted treatments for diseases. She plans a multidisciplinary approach incorporating new genomic technologies, computational analyses, and genome engineering to push microbiome research towards a translational space in which metagenomic sequence data can be leveraged towards precision medicine.

This research plan provided the basis of Oh’s 2015 K22 Career Transition Award from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to support her transition to leading her own lab.

“In addition to developing my research program,” Oh says, “I am excited to interface with JAX’s strong cohort of immunologists and genomicists to gain mechanistic insights into the complex interface of the microbiome with the human body. I am also looking to create and expand on industry collaborations to facilitate translational microbiome research.”

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs 1,700 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.