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Owen Hale

Graduate Student, Biological Sciences

Megan Behringer (Thesis)
Doug Clayton (Clinical)

During my training, I hope to leverage my position as an evolutionary biologist and ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences and the clinical expertise of the members of the Department of Urology to produce basic and translational insights into the urogenital microbiome. The microbial communities inhabiting the bladder and vagina have been associated with conditions such as urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence. These associations, as well as the evolutionary and ecological dynamics that drive them are poorly understood. Currently, I am analyzing metagenomic data collected in a clinical trial aimed at modifying the microbiome to prevent urinary tract infections. I have also spoken with Dr. Douglass Clayton about collaborating to observe the development of the pediatric urinary microbiome in healthy patients and those with spina bifida. In the future, I hope to use data from collaborative translational projects like these to draw insights into evolutionary processes in the urogenital microbiome, such as the effect of selection on microbes migrating from the vagina to the bladder. These basic investigations will be coupled with analyses aimed at determining the features of the urinary microbiome that are associated with clinical outcomes.