Dr. Peterson’s research focuses on the basic questions about the factors that determine the impact, level and specificity of the immune response to different microbes. During his postdoctoral training, his research became focused on the immune response gut microbiota, in an era when sequencing the genomes of the gut microbes brought to light a new understanding of this microbial community that occupies the mammalian gut habitat.
After his fellowship, he moved back to Lincoln and the University of Nebraska-Gut Function Initiative to set up a research group and germ-free mouse facility to examine the host-microbe response in a simplified and defined mouse model. Trained as a clinical pathologist, he has moved to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to work in the pathology department as a diagnostic immunologist as well as continue the work on host-microbial interactions in the gut and defining the role that these play in development of the immune system.
- Hansen JJ, Huang Y, Peterson DA, Goeser L, Fan TJ, Chang EB, Sartor RB. “The colitis-associated transcriptional profile of commensal Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron enhances adaptive immune responses to a bacterial antigen.” PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42645.
- McKnite AM, Perez-Munoz ME, Lu L, Williams EG, Brewer S, Andreux PA, Bastiaansen JW, Wang X, Kachman SD, Auwerx J, Williams RW, Benson AK, Peterson DA, Ciobanu DC. “Murine gut microbiota is defined by host genetics and modulates variation of metabolic traits.” PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39191.
- Martínez I, Lattimer JM, Hubach KL, Case JA, Yang J, Weber CG, Louk JA, Rose DJ, Kyureghian G, Peterson DA, Haub MD, Walter J. “Gut microbiome composition is linked to whole grain-induced immunological improvements.” ISME J. 2013 Feb;7(2):269-80.
- Oh PL, Martínez I, Sun Y, Walter J, Peterson DA, Mercer DF. “Characterization of the ileal microbiota in rejecting and nonrejecting recipients of small bowel transplants.” Am J Transplant. 2012 Mar;12(3):753-62.
- Peterson DA, Cardona RA. “Specificity of the adaptive immune response to the gut microbiota.” Adv Immunol. 2010;107:71-107.
- Benson AK, Kelly SA, Legge R, Ma F, Low SJ, Kim J, Zhang M, Oh PL, Nehrenberg D, Hua K, Kachman SD, Moriyama EN, Walter J, Peterson DA, Pomp D. “Individuality in gut microbiota composition is a complex polygenic trait shaped by multiple environmental and host genetic factors.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Nov 2;107(44):18933-8.
The Peterson laboratory uses a "systems immunology" approach to study the complex systems in play in the host-microbial interactions in the gut in both homeostasis and disease. The laboratory uses metagenomic approaches to study the microbes and microbial taxa that are in healthy states compared to disease states in both human subjects as well as mouse models of disease (from Ulcerative Colitic to Small Bowel transplant). Basic cellular immunology of T cells and B cells that are specific to gut microbes with studies that are designed to study the specific impact of gut microbes on the development of specific and non-specific cells in the gut as well as measuring the impact of these immune responses on individual microbes and the microbial community. The systems immunology approach relies on the simplified models that can only be obtained in gnotobiotic and germ-free mice where the microbial composition in the gut can be controlled or removed from the experiments. The Peterson laboratory is in the process of establishing the only gnotobiotic mouse facility at JHU.