Helen Vuong

MIDB Member Helen Vuong Named 2023 Pew Scholar

Helen Vuong, PhD, a member of MIDB's Translational Hub and assistant professor of Pediatrics, has been selected as a 2023 Pew Biomedical Scholar.

The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences provides funding to young investigators of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health. The program makes grants to selected academic institutions to support the independent research of outstanding individuals who are in their first few years of their appointment at the assistant professor level.

"It is an honor to be selected as a 2023 Pew Biomedical Scholar," said Vuong. "I'm grateful to the Pew Charitable Trusts for supporting my research to understand how microbes during pregnancy interact with the maternal environment to impact long-term brain health of the offspring. I'm excited and look forward to joining the Pew Scholar community."

Vuong's research focuses on exploring how perturbation during pregnancy alters maternal gut bacteria and regulates neural development and behavior in the offspring. Using the latest methods in biochemistry, pharmacology, genetics, and neurophysiology, she will catalog the microbial metabolites produced during pregnancy, identify the host receptor proteins that interact with metabolites, and assess how these interactions influence maternal health, fetal growth, and neurodevelopment. She will then evaluate how challenges to the maternal environment can alter the microbial metabolite landscape and assess how metabolite-based interventions will protect offspring from lasting alterations to their brain and behaviors.

"This work will broaden our understanding of maternal health and its importance in fetal development, and could lead to public health strategies for preventing neurological disorders associated with poor maternal health," said Vuong.

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