Microbiome Systems Biology Interrogation of the Gut-Brain Axis

Interdisciplinary Areas: Engineering-Medicine, Others

Project Description

The objective of this project is to study how interactions between the gut microbiome, sex hormones, and nutritional factors influence hormonal homeostasis and neurological signaling networks. The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonad (HPG) axis encompasses synergistic interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands. Nutritional factors and microbiome dysbiosis have been shown to disrupt the HPG axis, causing systemic inflammatory dysregulation.

The high complexity of HPG interactions with microbiomes and nutrition necessitate a systems biology approach. The Cross Lab employs innovative germ-free animal models from which multi-omics data (e.g. metabolomics, proteomics, metagenomics) are being collected to understand HPG axis-microbiome interactions. The Brubaker Lab employs computational systems biology approaches to construct multi-omic models of host-microbiome interactions and to translate these models to understand complex human disease. Together, the Brubaker and Cross labs at Purdue University bring together a unique combination of expertise and mentorship that will allow the successful candidate to execute integrated experimental-computational studies to understand the mechanisms of HPG axis-microbiome interactions and translate these insights to human neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Start Date


Postdoctoral Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate…
• A Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, Systems Biology, Nutrition, or related field
• Expertise in animal models of neurological, inflammatory, or metabolic disease OR expertise in computational modeling of high dimensional biological datasets.
• Critical thinking, curiosity, and creativity in multidisciplinary research
• Effective project and time management, mentorship, leadership, and interpersonal skills
• Strong oral and written communication
The successful candidate will also be responsible for preparing manuscripts for publication, traveling to and presenting research results at scientific meetings, and working with the PI to manage research activities in the lab and train students. Postdocs are also expected to apply for external support and to develop additional independent projects in biomechanics and mechanobiology as part of their training to become independent investigators.


Douglas Brubaker, dkbrubak@purdue.edu, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. brubakerlab.com

Tzu-Wen Cross, tlcross@purdue.edu, Department of Nutrition Science.