Michael Morowitz, MD, FACS

  • Associate Professor of Surgery and Human Genetics

Education & Training

  • Medical School – Duke University – MD
  • Residency – Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – General Surgery
  • Fellowship – University of Alabama – Pediatric Surgery

Research Summary

The Morowitz laboratory studies changes in the gut microbiota during critical illness. We are particularly interested in strategies to reverse antibiotic- and diet-induced alterations in the microbiome. We are systematically evaluating the benefits of plant-based nutrition in modifying the microbiome and improving outcomes, in part via alterations in bile acid and amino acid metabolism in the gut lumen.  Our work includes -omics-based analyses of clinical samples collected from patients, as well as animal models of critical illness.  We are currently studying the impact of a plant-based diet in murine models of inflammatory bowel disease, pneumonia, and traumatic brain injury. Lab members are well versed in molecular genetic approaches, in vitro biochemical assays, culture-independent interrogation of the gut microbiota, and computational analyses of large DNA sequencing datasets. Dr. Morowitz is particularly invested in supporting the development of surgeon-scientists and the advancement of researchers studying host-microbial relationships.

Representative Publications

  1. Orlova E, Yeh A, Shi M, Firek B, Ranganathan S; 23andMe Research Team, Whitcomb DC, Finegold DN, Ferrell RE, Barmada MM, Marazita ML, Hinds DA, Shaffer JR, Morowitz MJ. Genetic association and differential expression of PITX2 with acute appendicitis. Hum Genet. 2018 Nov 3. doi: 10.1007/s00439-018-1956-2. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30392061.
  2. Di Caro V, Cummings JL, Alcamo AM, Piganelli JD, Clark RSB, Morowitz MJ, Aneja RK. Dietary Cellulose Supplementation Modulates the Immune Response in a Murine Endotoxemia Model. Shock. 2018 May 8. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000001180. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30080745; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6222003.
  3. Brooks B, Olm MR, Firek BA, Baker R, Geller-McGrath D, Reimer SR, Soenjoyo KR, Yip JS, Dahan D, Thomas BC, Morowitz MJ, Banfield JF. The developing premature infant gut microbiome is a major factor shaping the microbiome of neonatal intensive care unit rooms. Microbiome. 2018 Jun 20;6(1):112. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0493-5. PubMed PMID: 29925423; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6011520.
  4. Brown CT, Xiong W, Olm MR, Thomas BC, Baker R, Firek B, Morowitz MJ, Hettich RL, Banfield JF. Hospitalized Premature Infants Are Colonized by Related Bacterial Strains with Distinct Proteomic Profiles. MBio. 2018 Apr 10;9(2). pii: e00441-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00441-18. PubMed PMID: 29636439; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5893878.
  5. Goyal A, Yeh A, Bush BR, Firek BA, Siebold LM, Rogers MB, Kufen AD, Morowitz MJ. Safety, Clinical Response, and Microbiome Findings Following Fecal Microbiota Transplant in Children With Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Jan 18;24(2):410-421. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izx035. PubMed PMID: 29361092.
  6. Rahman SF, Olm MR, Morowitz MJ, Banfield JF. Machine Learning Leveraging Genomes from Metagenomes Identifies Influential Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Infant Gut Microbiome. mSystems. 2018 Jan 9;3(1). pii: e00123-17. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00123-17. eCollection 2018 Jan-Feb. PubMed PMID: 29359195; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5758725.
  7. Brooks B, Olm MR, Firek BA, Baker R, Thomas BC, Morowitz MJ, Banfield JF. Strain-resolved analysis of hospital rooms and infants reveals overlap between the human and room microbiome. Nat Commun. 2017 Nov 27;8(1):1814. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02018-w. PubMed PMID: 29180750; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5703836.
  8. Xiong W, Brown CT, Morowitz MJ, Banfield JF, Hettich RL. Genome-resolved metaproteomic characterization of preterm infant gut microbiota development reveals species-specific metabolic shifts and variabilities during early life. Microbiome. 2017 Jul 10;5(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s40168-017-0290-6. PubMed PMID: 28693612; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5504695.
  9. Costello EK, Sun CL, Carlisle EM, Morowitz MJ, Banfield JF, Relman DA. Candidatus Mycoplasma girerdii replicates, diversifies, and co-occurs with Trichomonas vaginalis in the oral cavity of a premature infant. Sci Rep. 2017 Jun 19;7(1):3764. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-03821-7. PubMed PMID: 28630471; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5476646.
  10. Morowitz MJ, Di Caro V, Pang D, Cummings J, Firek B, Rogers MB, Ranganathan S, Clark RSB, Aneja RK. Dietary Supplementation With Nonfermentable Fiber Alters the Gut Microbiota and Confers Protection in Murine Models of Sepsis. Crit Care Med. 2017 May;45(5):e516-e523. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000002291. PubMed PMID: 28252538; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5392159.