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Elaine Hsiao

Elaine Hsiao

Associate Professor
De Logi Endowed Chair in Biological Sciences
Vice Chair of Postdoctoral Affairs

Office: 3825A MSB
Phone: (310) 825-2297


Elaine is an Assistant Professor at UCLA, where she is interested in all things microbial, neural and immune. She completed her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA, which sparked her love for molecular biology and bacteria. She went on to complete her Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Caltech, where she studied the neurobiological bases of autism and schizophrenia, with a focus on maternal effects on fetal development, and neuroimmune and microbial contributions to behavioral disorders. Inspired by the amazing and complex interactions between body systems, the Hsiao laboratory is investigating how “peripheral” changes in the immune system and resident microbiota impact the nervous system.

Research Interests

The gut microbiota is emerging as an important modulator of brain function and behavior, as several recent discoveries reveal substantial effects of the microbiome on neurophysiology, neurogenesis, blood brain barrier permeability, neuroimmunity, brain gene expression and animal behavior. Despite these findings supporting a “microbiome-gut-brain axis”, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie interactions between the gut microbiota and brain remain poorly understood. To uncover these, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. We aim to dissect biological circuits for communication between the gut microbiota and nervous system, toward understanding fundamental biological pathways that influence brain and behavior. Situated at the interface of neurobiology, immunology and microbiology, we are using integrative systems approaches to study fundamental questions in biology: What are the effects of the microbiota on the nervous system? How do resident microbes communicate with the nervous system? Which individual species or communities confer particular functional effects? How do microbe-nervous system interactions impact health and disease? What, if any, are the potential evolutionary benefits for microbes to interact with the nervous system? Can rational modification of the microbiota be used to treat symptoms of neurological diseases?


B.S., Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles 2006
Ph.D., Neurobiology, California Institute of Technology 2012

Selected Publications

Lynch JB, Hsiao EY (2019) ‘Microbiomes as sources of emergent host phenotypes.’ Science, 365 (6460): 1405-1409. PMID: 31604267

Fung TC, Vuong HE, Luna CDG, Pronovost GN, Aleksandrova AA, Riley NG, Vavilina A, McGinn J, Rendon T, Forrest LR, Hsiao EY (2019) ‘Intestinal serotonin and fluoxetine exposure modulate bacterial colonization in the gut.’ Nat Microbiol, 4 (12): 2064-2073. PMID: 31477894

Lum GR, Olson CA, Hsiao EY (2020) ‘Emerging roles for the intestinal microbiome in epilepsy.’ Neurobiol Dis, 135 (): 104576. PMID: 31445165

Pronovost GN, Hsiao EY (2019) ‘Perinatal Interactions between the Microbiome, Immunity, and Neurodevelopment.’ Immunity, 50 (1): 18-36. PMID: 30650376

Hsiao E. Y., “The neuroimmune collective, in “Voices: The Next Quarter Century””, Immunity, 50 : 769-777 (2019) .

Olson C. A., Vuong H. E., Yano J. M., Liang Q. Y., Nusbaum D. J., Hsiao E. Y., “The gut microbiota mediates the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet”, Cell, 173 : 1728-1741 (2018) .

Hsiao EY (2018) Decoding states and contexts, in “Setting the Stage for the Next Generation of Neuroscience”. Neuron. 99:11-12. PMID: 30001505.

Fung TC, Olson CA, Hsiao EY (2017) ‘Interactions between the microbiota, immune and nervous systems in health and disease.’ Nat Neurosci, 20 (2): 145-155. PMID: 28092661

Yano JM, Yu K, Donaldson GP, Shastri GG, Ann P, Ma L, Nagler CR, Ismagilov RF, Mazmanian SK, Hsiao EY (2015) ‘Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis.’ Cell, 161 (2): 264-76. PMID: 25860609