Organic Chemistry Seminar: Professor A. Sloan Devlin, Harvard University

Sloan Devlin

Photo credit: Justin Knight

Date Range
Wed May 17th 2023, 3:00 - 4:00pm
Sapp Center Auditorium 111

About the Seminar 

“Host-produced, bacterially modified gut metabolites”

Human-associated bacteria play a vital role in human health, and microbial imbalance has been linked to a wide range of disease states. However, the ways in which bacteria affect the host at a molecular level remain poorly understood. In order to harness connections between the microbiome and disease to improve human health, we need to know more about the molecules and chemical mechanisms driving host-microbiota interactions. The goal of our research is to understand and control the chemistry of human-associated bacteria in order to uncover how the microbiome affects human health and disease. Our current work is focused on how human gut bacteria metabolize host-produced small molecules and how the resultant compounds affect host physiology, and in particular, host metabolism, immune function, and neurological function and behavior. Host-produced compounds such as steroids, sterols, and vitamins act as crucial signaling molecules and regulators of host biology, but their metabolism by gut bacteria has been relatively unexplored. Here I will discuss our recent progress toward uncovering the biosynthetic pathways and biological roles of host-produced, bacterially modified metabolites.

About the Speaker 

Sloan Devlin is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. She received her A.B. degree in chemistry from Harvard College in 2006, where she conducted research in the laboratory of Andrew Myers. She earned her Ph.D. in 2012 from Stanford University under the direction of Professor Justin Du Bois. Her graduate work focused on the total synthesis of the potent voltage-gated sodium ion channel agonist batrachotoxin as well as the development of novel rhodium-catalyzed C–H insertion methodology. In 2012, Sloan joined the lab of Professor Michael Fischbach at the University of California, San Francisco as a postdoctoral fellow. Her research in the Fischbach lab involved elucidating biosynthetic pathways and biological activities for small molecules produced by human-associated bacteria. Sloan joined the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2016. Sloan’s current work focuses on leveraging expertise in organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, cell biology, and gnotobiotic in vivo experiments to understand how human gut bacteria contribute to health and disease. She is the recipient of a 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in chemistry and a 2018 NIH Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA).

Host: Justin Du Bois