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Emily Balskus is uncovering mechanisms underlying how gut microbes influence host health and disease, with a focus on discovering and characterizing the microbes, genes, and enzymes that perform critical metabolic activities in microbial communities, or microbiomes. Balskus and her team are also developing novel tools to study metabolism in complex microbiomes, including small molecule inhibitors that selectively manipulate microbial activities, establishing causality and opening the door to microbiome-targeted therapeutics. Previously, the team has revealed pathways that build reactive compounds and mediate formerly unknown host-microbe interactions and they have elucidated how the gut microbiome alters the availability of important small molecule drugs like L-dopa and metabolites like cholesterol.