Meet Our Researchers

Moran Yassour

Postdoctoral researcher in the labs of Eric Lander and Ramnik Xavier at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Moran Yassour is investigating how different methods of childbirth affect children’s gut microbiomes.

Project Description

The bacteria in a baby’s gut can differ radically, depending on how the baby was delivered. But what bacteria are impacted, and why? BroadIgnite is funding Moran’s research into this very question, through a study at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Listen to the BroadIgnite podcast with Moran Yassour

Read about Moran's research in The Atlantic

The Question

In our research, we observed that babies born via C-section have a different microbe signature than those born by vaginal delivery. This finding was not novel, but there was something in our data we could not account for: 20 percent of the babies born by vaginal delivery had the microbial signature of C-section babies. We had enough data to observe this, but not enough to explain it. Could we establish a new cohort that would have the data we were missing, and help us understand this initial finding and its impact on these babies’ health?

The Approach

Together with Caroline Mitchell, a clinician and scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), we enrolled 190 families in our study. We collected samples from the babies and from different niches of the mother’s body. Now that most of the samples have been sequenced, we hope to get a better understanding of the differences in the microbial signatures. We can also explore if we see less mother-to-baby transmission of bacterial strains in C-section births—and, if so, we can potentially identify the strains in question. Already, the preliminary results from these samples have helped us receive a large NIH grant to further this project.