Laurie Comstock to Join Department of Microbiology

Dr. Laurie E. Comstock, PhD, an internationally renowned leader in gut anaerobic microbiology, will be joining the University of Chicago Department of Microbiology and the Duchossois Family Institute as Professor of Microbiology on September 1, 2021.  Dr. Comstock currently serves as Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School where her research program focuses on the Bacteroidales, prominent members of the human gut microbiome.  

Dr. Comstock has conducted pioneering investigations of the mechanisms by which the Bacteroidales interact with their mammalian host and with other members of the intestinal microbiota.  During the early stages of her career, she focused on pathogenic mechanisms of Bacteroides fragilis, then expanded her focus and became a leader in studies of Bacteroidales as gut symbionts.

“Laurie’s research has had a profound impact on the field of microbiology and, more specifically, our understanding of the biology of the Bacteroidetes.  Her research aligns with the goals of the Duchossois Family Institute and will further our understanding of how the microbiome impacts human health,” said Eric Pamer, Director of the Duchossois Family Institute.  “We are delighted that she will be joining our efforts.”

At the University of Chicago, Dr. Comstock will study communities of bacteria from different host backgrounds and underlying diseases to understand how interactions between gut microbes may differ in various host backgrounds.  “The objectives of my lab and our work are well-matched with the mission of the Duchossois Family Institute to harness the microbiome for human health. Our work will nicely integrate with the research of the Institute with numerous potential areas for collaboration to accelerate transformative health solutions.”

Dr. Comstock received her Bachelor’s degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Bowman Gray School of Medicine/Wake Forest University.  She completed postdoctoral training in the lab of James Kaper at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where she worked on virulence mechanisms of Vibrio cholerae. She moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and worked with Dennis Kasper and developed genetic systems to study unique properties of the gut Bacteroidales.  In 1996 she became a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and was appointed a Professor of Medicine in 2019.