Rob Knight

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  • Microbial Ecologist
  • Principal Investigator, Knight Lab

Using scatological research methods that might repel the squeamish, microbial researcher Rob Knight uncovers the secret ecosystem (or "microbiome") of microbes that inhabit our bodies -- and the bodies of every creature on earth. In the process, he’s discovered a complex internal ecology that affects everything from weight loss to our susceptibility to disease. As he said to Nature, "What motivates me, from a pragmatic standpoint, is how understanding the microbial world might help us improve human and environmental health.” 
 
Knight’s recent projects include the American Gut, an attempt to map the unique microbiome of the United States using open-access data mining tools and citizen-scientists to discover how lifestyle and diet affect our internal flora and fauna, and our overall health. He is also co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and the company Biota, Inc., which uses DNA from microbes in the subsurface to guide oilfield decisions. 

 
  

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Rob Knight explores the unseen microbial world that exists literally right under our noses — and everywhere else on (and in) our bodies.”

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Rob Knight
  • TED.com
Rob Knight - How our microbes make us who we are - Get Sharable Link
Rob Knight - How our microbes make us who we are
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Mapping the human microbiome | CNN Vital Signs
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Follow Your Gut: Microbiomes and Aging with Rob Knight | Stein Institute for Research on Aging
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Rob Knight - The Current Toolkit for Studying Microbiome/Built Environment Interfaces
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Rob Knight – Breaking the Wall to Our Microbial Self @Falling Walls Conference
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Biography

Rob Knight is the founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego. Before that, he was Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Computer Science in the BioFrontiers Institute of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an HHMI Early Career Scientist. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Microbiology.  In 2015 he received the Vilceck Prize in Creative Promise for the Life Sciences. He is the author of Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes (Simon & Schuster, 2015), coauthor of Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and spoke at TED in 2014. His lab has produced many of the software tools and laboratory techniques that enabled high-throughput microbiome science, including the QIIME pipeline (cited ~8000 times as of this writing) and UniFrac (cited ~5000 times). He is co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, the American Gut Project, and the company Biota, Inc., which uses DNA from microbes in the subsurface to guide oilfield decisions. His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra, and made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world.