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Janet C. Onishi

Janet Onishi headshot.

Visiting Scientist

Lipman Hall
76 Lipman Drive
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8525

Research Interests

As a Visiting Professor in the laboratory of Dr. Max Häggblom, a microbial ecologist, I have an opportunity for independent research where I am involved in studies exploring how diet induced gut microbiome changes affect the health of animals. Studies completed at Rutgers University have involved investigating diet induced intestinal microbiome changes using mouse and equine models. The studies are based on using 16S rRNA sequencing methods and have associated changes in Gram negative bacteria with obesity and laminitis, an inflammatory disease involving the laminar tissue in ungulate mammals. It is unclear how changes in intestinal microbial communities contribute to inflammation associated with obesity and laminitis. Future studies are planned to study the role of bacterial derived factors on the pathophysiology of selected inflammatory diseases.

My research has utilized my broad experiences as a biochemist and microbiologist at Merck and Co. As a pharmaceutical research scientist, I was responsible for developing and validating in-vitro, ex-vivo and in-vivo assays used in the discovery and development of small and large molecules to treat fungal and bacterial infections. As a member of various project teams, I focused on the discovery and development of novel compounds inhibiting fungal β-glucan and sterol synthesis to assessment of novel antibodies with killing activity. The novel compounds discovered were produced by microorganisms and are thus classified as natural products. The results of these efforts culminated in one product, Cancidas™, used to treat life-threatening fungal infections. I have transitioned my research from natural products drug and vaccine discovery to studying how diet affects intestinal microorganisms. By combining my experience in small and large molecule discovery with my experience in studying how diet affects intestinal bacterial communities, my research seeks to integrate aspects of microbial ecology with nutrition and health.

Selected Publications

  1. Chen, T., Liu A. B., Sun, S., Ajami, N. J., Ross, M. C., Wang, H., Zhang, L., Reuhl, K., Kobayashi, K., Onishi, J. C., Zhao, L., and Yang, C. S. 2018. Effects of Green and Black Tea Polyphenols on Diabetes and Structural Responses in the Gut Microbiome in db/db Mice. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. Submitted 2018
  2. Onishi, J. C., S. Campbell, M. Moreau, F. Patel, A. I. Brooks, Y.X. Zhou, M. Häggblom and J. Storch. 2017. Bacterial communities in the small intestine respond differently to those in the cecum and colon in mice fed low and high fat diets. Microbiology. 163:1189-1197.
  3. Moreau, M. M., Eades, S. C., Reinemeyer, C. R., Fugaro, M.N., Onishi. J.C. 2014. Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA V4 hypervariable region reveals extensive changes in equine cecal bacterial communities following carbohydrate oral infusion and development of early-stage acute laminitis. Vet.Micro.168:436-41.
  4. Onishi, J. C., J.-W. Park, J. Prado, S. C. Eades, M. H. Mirza, M. N. Fugaro, M. M Häggblom and C. R. Reinemeyer. 2012. Intestinal bacterial overgrowth includes potential pathogens in the carbohydrate overload models of equine acute laminitis. Vet. Micro. 159:354-363.
  5. Onishi, J. C., J.-W. Park, M. M. Häggblom, M. J. Fennell, M. N. Fugaro. 2012. Chronic laminitis is associated with potential bacterial pathogens in the laminae. Vet. Micro. 158:329-336.