Elaine Hsiao, UCLA’s De Logi Professor of Biological Sciences and an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College, has been selected the 2022 Early Career Scientist winner of the Innovators in Science Award in gastroenterology. 

The prize is administered by the New York Academy of Sciences and sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. 

Hsiao and her lab study the trillions of microbes the body contains in the gut microbiota that impact health and disease. They have made discoveries into how the gut microbiome influences the brain and behavior, and are investigating how these microbes communicate with the nervous system, their effects on the nervous system, and how interactions between microbes and the nervous system impact health and disease.

Her research offers new insight into the causes and treatment of neurological diseases such as autism and epilepsy. In 2020, Hsiao studied the influence of the maternal microbiome on fetal brain development. Her 2019 study of how microbiota influence serotonin-producing endocrine cells in the gut could further the understanding of intestinal and neurological diseases. And this 2021 study may help explain how changes in the gut microbiota can alter the brain and behavior. 

Hsiao, also an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLAdiscusses her research and her hope for how her research can benefit us in the future.