Microbiota-immune-brain interactions in health and disease

Dr. Jane Foster joined UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Center of Depression Research and Clinical Care (CDRC) in May 2022. Her work focuses on linking a person’s 30 trillion gut microbes and their propensity for mental illness. By combining basic science research with clinical collaboration in psychiatry, psychology, and gastroenterology, Dr. Foster’s research takes a ‘bench to bedside’ and back again approach to studying microbiota-brain and immune-brain systems.

Mood Disorders Research

Meet Dr. Jane Foster.

In the past 19 years, Dr. Foster has developed an internationally recognized translational research program. Her multidisciplinary expertise includes behavioral neuroscience, molecular biology, immunology, neuroimaging, microbiome, and bioinformatics in both preclinical and clinical research domains. Dr. Foster’s research program has developed high quality analytical pipelines for biological data and has developed novel analytical tools for integrating data across modalities. 

Dr. Foster

Dr. Foster's involvement in the broader psychiatric community across Canada, the US, and Europe, provides a unique opportunity to study the complex neurobiological underpinnings of microbiota-brain and neuroimmune systems in psychiatric illness in clinical populations and to explore underlying biological mechanism in animal models.

Mood Disorders Research

Understanding the Role of the Microbiome in Mental Health

Dr. Jane Foster joins the Medscape's InDiscussion Podcast series hosted by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care (CDRC) at UT Southwestern Medical Center. In this episode, Dr. Foster discusses the role and future of gut microbiome research in major depressive disorder.

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Mood Disorders Research

Improving our understanding of how immune-brain and gut-brain interactions contribute to psychiatric disorders

We investigate how the immune system and gut microbiota influence brain function and behavior.  We use molecular, behavioral, anatomical, and immunological approaches in the lab. In parallel, we collaborate with clinical groups to examine the role of inflammatory and gut-brain mediators in psychiatric illness. Overall, research in the last decade has established a bottom-up link between gut microbiota and brain function. Our findings demonstrate that gut microbiota are important during early development and can influence brain wiring and behavior; however, in order to determine the importance of this influence, the mechanisms of action and the nature of the interactions (causal or not) must be considered.

Recent News & Events

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Dr. Foster joins the Perot Museum's Community Day

CDRC Faculty and staff joined with more than 50 UT Southwestern colleagues for medIDEAs at the Perot for the Perot Museum’s Community Day 10th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, December 3rd to bring science into the community. This work is part of an important ongoing collaboration with partners in STEM outreach as well as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

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CDRC presents at GEM Cedar Hill Autumn Event

CDRC Faculty, Drs. Cherise Chin Fatt and Jane Foster joined the GEM event to share information about their work. The CDRC's own, Harmony Hilton presented about our newest program, Blue Steel, and the importance of resilience. Attendees included 350 female student-athletes between the 9th-12th grades.

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The link between our food, gut microbiome and depression

Dr. Jane Foster was interviewed by the Washington Post as part of coverage related to the largest analysis of depression and the gut microbiome to date, published in December 2022.

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'Mind Your Microbes: The Connection Between Gut, Mood, and Mental Health' presentation

The connection between the gut and brain and the effect particular microbes can have on your mood has been well documented by the global research community. On Thursday, June 15, the next Science Café will feature special guest Jane Foster, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, who will discuss the significance of our gut flora to the development and health of the brain.

Mood Disorders Research

Uncovering the Microbiome–Brain–Gut Axis

Dr. Jane Foster and colleagues' recent December 2022 publication findings highlight the tripartite relationship between stress, microbe-immune interactions, and brain development. This study demonstrates the suitability of a novel behavioral pipeline for the study of genetic and environmental influences on neurodevelopment and illustrates the role of T cells in exacerbating the effects of early-life stress on emotional behavior and gut microbiome structure.

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Mood Disorders Research

The best discoveries come from an environment of mentorship and collaboration.

Be a part of the impact we’re making in scientific research across many specialty areas.

Dr. Jane Foster, a leading expert in microbiota-immune biomarkers in neuroscience and psychiatry, was recruited and joined the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care (CDRC) in May 2022. Dr. Foster’s molecular biology laboratory expands the current clinical research lab to include state-of-the-art equipment for genomic (DNA, RNA) and proteomic analysis of clinical biospecimens and tissue samples collected from mouse models. Dr. Foster also leads reverse translational work in mice to identify molecular mechanisms that connect the microbiome and the immune system to the brain.

Interested in joining our lab, contact us.