Julia L. Drewes, Ph.D.

Julia Lynn Drewes, Ph.D.

Headshot of Julia L. Drewes
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine

Research Interests

Microbiology; oncology; immunology; spatial biology ...read more



  • Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions



  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (2014)
  • B.S.; Stanford University (California) (2007)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

My research focuses on the pathogenesis of microbes and microbial communities (biofilms) in colorectal cancer, using a combination of animal models and clinical studies.

We leverage advanced sequencing technologies, imaging, metabolomics, flow cytometry, and in vitro culture and co-culture systems to define host and microbial interactions that may initiate or promote colorectal cancer in animal models. Individual microbes of interest include toxigenic strains of Clostridioides difficile and Fusobacterium spp. including F. nucleatum. 

Polymicrobial colonic biofilms are also an active area of interest. These biofilms are mucus-invasive microbial communities that interact directly with the epithelium and are highly enriched in colorectal cancer tissues in patients compared to healthy colonic tissues. In collaboration with our clinical partners, we perform biofilm screening of colorectal cancer and screening colonoscopy cohorts alongside downstream analyses.  Understanding the mechanisms by which these biofilms form, and their association with colonic polyps and other host and microbial factors is a major goal of my laboratory. 

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Drewes JL, Chen J, Markham NO, Knippel RJ, Domingue JC, Tam AJ, Chan JL, Kim L, McMann M, Stevens C, Dejea CM, Tomkovich S, Michel J, White JR, Mohammad F, Campodonico VL, Heiser CN, Wu X, Wu S, Ding H, Simner P, Carroll K, Shrubsole MJ, Anders RA, Walk ST, Jobin C, Wan F, Coffey RJ, Housseau F, Lau KS, Sears CL. Human colon cancer-derived Clostridioides difficile strains drive colonic tumorigenesis in mice. Cancer Discovery. 2022 (in press)

Queen J, Domingue JC, White JR, Stevens C, Udayasuryan B, Nguyen TTD, Wu S, Ding H, Fan H, McMann M, Corona A, Larman TC, Verbridge SS, Housseau F, Slade DJ, Drewes JL, Sears CL. Comparative analysis of colon cancer-derived Fusobacterium nucleatum subspecies: inflammation and colon tumorigenesis in murine models. mBio. 2022 Feb 8;13(1):e0299121

Chen B, Scurrah CR, McKinley ET, Simmons AJ, Ramirez-Solano MA, Zhu X, Markham NO, Heiser CN, Vega PN, Kim H, Sheng Q, Drewes JL, Zhou Y, Southard-Smith AN, Xu Y, Rolong A, Ro J, Jones AL, Revetta F, Berry L, Pelka K, Hofree M, Chen J, Sarkizova S, Ng K, Giannakis M, Boland GM, Aguirre AJ, Anderson AC, Rozenblatt-Rosen O, Regev A, Hacohen N, Kawasaki K, Sato T, Grady WM, Zheng W, Washington MK, Cai Q, Sears CL, Goldenring JR, Franklin JL, Su T, Huh WJ, Vandekar S, Roland JT, Liu Q, Coffey RJ, Shrubsole MJ, Lau KS.  Human colorectal pre-cancer atlas identifies distinct molecular programs underlying two major subclasses of pre-malignant tumors. Cell 2021 Dec 22;184(26):6262-6280.e26

Tomkovich S, Dejea CM, Winglee K, Drewes JL, Chung L, Housseau F, Pope JL, Gauthier J, Sun X, Muhlbauer M, Liu X, Fathi P, Anders RA, Besharati S, Perez-Chanona E, Yang Y, Ding H, Wu X, Wu S, White JR, Gharaibeh RZ, Fodor AA, Wang H, Pardoll DM, Jobin C, Sears CL. Human colon mucosal biofilms from healthy or colon cancer hosts are carcinogenic. J Clin Invest. 2019;130:1699-1712

Drewes JL, White JR, Dejea CM, Fathi P, Iyadorai T, Vadivelu J, Roslani AC, Wick EC, Mongodin EF, Loke MF, Thulasi K, Gan HM, Goh KL, Chong HY, Kumar S, Wanyiri JW, Sears CL. High-resolution bacterial 16S rRNA gene profile meta-analysis and biofilm status reveal common colorectal cancer consortia. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2017 Nov 29;3:34. doi: 10.1038/s41522-017-0040-3. eCollection 2017.PMID: 29214046

Contact for Research Inquiries

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Activities & Honors


  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
  • American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)
  • American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
  • Anaerobe Society of the Americas
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