The multidisciplinary Nebraska Food for Health Center brings together the University of Nebraska’s strengths in agriculture and medicine. Its research focuses on microbes living in the human gut microbiome. The center helps develop hybrid crops and foods to improve the health and quality of life for those affected by critical diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers, inflammatory bowel disease. One question being examined is how antibiotics prescribed for illnesses affect the microbiome of bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract and how to mitigate negative effects.
Food microbiologist Jennifer Auchtung was awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control in 2018 to examine how 12 commonly used antibiotics might affect the gut health of children, adults and the elderly. Goals include identifying consistent trends and individual differences in how antibiotics affect the microbiomes of different people, as well as validating cost-effective models for testing antibiotic effects. Before joining the Food for Health Center, she worked at Baylor College of Medicine.