Looking for genetic clues hidden among trillions of microorganisms, known as the microbiome, living in the stomach is no small task. However, Dr. Hourigan is up to the challenge. The microbiome develops during the first few months of life and is fully developed by age 2 or 3. An imbalance in the microbiome is believed to cause inflammatory diseases, obesity, asthma, autoimmune disorders, neurological conditions and several other illnesses. Finding genetic clues or markers in the microbiome may lead to therapies to prevent and treat these devastating diseases.
Almost as difficult as finding genetic markers within the microbiome is securing funding for the lifesaving research. Dr. Hourigan is masterful working with donors to explain how philanthropy can lead to discoveries that may save a fragile infant’s life or prevent illness in adulthood. Dr. Hourigan’s microbiome research also receives funding through a $157 million international multi-institutional effort exploring children’s health to develop predictive models and prevent diseases from occurring later in life.