Karen E. Nelson, PhD is the President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). Prior to being appointed President, she held a number of other positions at the Institute, including Director of JCVI's Rockville Campus, and Director of Human Microbiology and Metagenomics in the Department of Human Genomic Medicine at JCVI. Dr. Nelson received her undergraduate degree from the University of the West Indies, and her PhD from Cornell University. She has authored or co-authored over 200 peer reviewed publications, edited three books, and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Microbial Ecology.
Dr. Nelson is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. Other honors include being named ARCS Scientist of the Year 2017; a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology; being inducted into the Indian National Academy of Sciences in 2018; and being appointed an Honorary Professor at the University of the West Indies as well as a Helmholtz International Fellow.
Dr. Nelson has extensive experience in microbial ecology, microbial genomics, microbial physiology and metagenomics. Dr. Nelson has led several genomic and metagenomic efforts, and led the first human metagenomics study that was published in 2006. Additional ongoing studies in her group include metagenomic approaches to study the ecology of the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals, studies on the relationship between the microbiome and various human and animal disease conditions, reference genome sequencing and analysis primarily for the human body, and other -omics studies.
Microbiome in health and disease
- Interrogating microbiome profiles and host microbe interactions
Emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance
- Understanding the intricate play between infectious species, gene transfer and the emergence of resistance
Understanding Resistance mechanisms in microbial species
- Deep investigations into how microbes respond to different types of drugs
Identification of novel species
- In different environments including the oral cavity, plants, and artic sediments
Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project
This project utilizes genomics approaches to confirm the identity of the remains purported to be that of Leonardo da Vinci as well as to characterize the microbial population on aging artwork.
Zoo in You Traveling Exhibition
Our bodies are home to trillions of bacteria. This project provides an education resource to middle and high school aged children who are interested in science and medicine.
Enteric dysbiosis associated with a mouse model of alcoholic liver disease. The translocation of bacteria and bacterial products into the circulation contributes to alcoholic liver disease.