In Dr. Littman's lab we are exploring the role of the enteric (gut) nervous system in intestinal immune function and its crosstalk with resident microbiota. It is known that the maintenance of a balanced, but poised intestinal immune system is heavily influenced by the interaction of intestinal microbiota and immune cells. Recent studies suggest that the nerve cells that control gut activity can recognize microbiota metabolites, but there is not yet a good understanding of how this recognition translates into modulation of intestinal immune homeostasis. Using sophisticated methods in cell and molecular biology, genetics and immunology, I will determine whether activation of intestinal neurons influences the action of immune cells in the gut-- and how resident microbes promote this interaction. This work could lead to the identification of new treatments for intestinal disorders such as chronic inflammatory bowel syndrome.