Scott Peterson, Ph.D.
Scott Peterson's Research Focus
Dr. Peterson studies the human microbiome with a focus on pro-inflammatory species that may disrupt immune homeostasis and trigger early events of carcinogenesis. This research focus is complimented by efforts to characterize invasive bacteria that may penetrate defense systems and induce chronic inflammation.
Scott Peterson's Research Report
Gastrointestinal disorders are a significant co-morbidity of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is correlation between severity of GI symptoms and ASD phenotypes. Additional co-morbidities include autoimmune disease and food allergies. The progressive nature of ASD leads to a progressively lower quality of life for patients and their families. An important underlying condition of ASD is a “leaky gut”. Chronic gut barrier defects expose the extensive gut immune system to a barrage of food and microbial antigens leading to increased inflammation and susceptibility to food allergies and autoimmune diseases like IBD. Leaky gut may also allow the passage of bacterial toxins and metabolites that may not normally traverse the gut epithelium and generate neuroinflammation and toxicity. Toxin producing microbes may exert a significant physiological effect even when present at low abundance in the community. We have been extensively studying the gut microbiota modulatory potential of a wide variety of prebiotic carbohydrates. Each probiotic tested generates unique blooms of beneficial microbes including species like B. fragilis that is known to restore gut barrier integrity and still other species webs that directly modulate anti-inflammatory responses (Treg) and dendritic cell subsets. A significant therapeutic advantage of prebiotics is their ability to induce the expanded representation and activity of coherent groupings of species many of which are not FDA GRAS. In this regard we would like to further screening efforts of prebiotic compounds We envision a discovery platform to define prebiotic formulations (2 or more prebiotics) to allow broad flexibility to modulate the gut microbiota to best achieve restoration of gut barrier integrity and induction of anti-inflammatory pathways. Still other GRAS probiotics have the potential to alleviate additional GI symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
Scott Peterson's Bio
Peterson completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. He joined the J. Craig Venter Institute in 1996, rising to the level of professor before coming to Sanford Burnham (now SBP) in 2012. He won the Visiting Lecturer Award from the University of Orsay in France.