David A. Sela

Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts

Email: davidsela@umass.edu
D. Sela Web Site

Ph.D.: University of California, Davis
Postdoctoral Training: Foods for Health Institute, University of California, Davis

Genomics, Genetics and Molecular Ecology of the Human Microbiome

Our objective is to contribute new scientific knowledge through mentorship of researchers broadly interested in food's role in health and wellness. Our research activities often rely on sequence-based approaches employed to investigate the genomics and ecology of commensal microorganisms. Moreover, we are determined to characterize mechanistic linkages with health emanating from host-microbial interactions. 

The overarching goal of our program is to better understand the means by which our food could promote health. We seek solutions to chronic diseases primarily through dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Likewise, we emphasize preventative approaches in lieu of less effective and more costly measures that are typically implemented after onset of pathology. We believe that increasing health metrics in a given population will be driven by personalized nutrition to account for inter-individual phenotypic variation.

Our lab investigates host-microbial interactions that are guided by nutrition at several levels of resolution. We are interested in the genomics and molecular physiology of isolated microbial commensals, community-level form and function of the aggregate microbiome, as well as quantifying parameters of one's health in response to dietary manipulations of their microbiome. To this end, we study bioactive molecules endogenous to breast milk (e.g. human milk oligosaccharides) that promote a protective microbial community in infants and potentially adults. We are highly interested in the molecular mechanisms by which microbial commensals sense and utilize dietary constituents. Moreover, this extends to the enmeshed syntrophic and other molecular interactions that extend to, and emanate from, the human host. Finally, we endeavor to define and test hypotheses that our resident microbiota have coevolved with our food (e.g. breast milk) at various stages of aging.

We often utilize high-throughput OMICS approaches and accompanying bioinformatics, as well as molecular genetics, biochemistry, and culture-based microbiology. As a rule, we will apply techniques and methodologies that will help us answer our most pressing questions. Thus we strongly encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations and will readily consider prospective members from diverse scientific backgrounds.


Representative publications:

D. Sela Google Scholar Page