Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that Dr. Jeffrey Gordon has received an Agilent Thought Leader Award in support of his pioneering research into the mutually beneficial relationship between the human body and the tens of trillions of microbes that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract.

Dr. Gordon directs the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The award, which includes funding and cutting-edge solutions from Agilent, will enhance his efforts to elucidate the role of the gut microbiome and its metabolic products in health and disease.

Dr. Gordon and his colleagues have characterized a program of assembly within the gut microbial community that begins at birth and is largely completed several years later. However, they point out, this process of community maturation is disrupted in infants and children suffering from malnutrition.

Dr. Gordon and other biologists believe that increased understanding of the metabolites produced by this "microbial organ" in healthy infants and children could ultimately lead to novel interventions to more effectively treat and prevent malnutrition, the leading cause of death in children worldwide.

"Even though current therapies have reduced mortality," Dr. Gordon noted, "children with a history of malnutrition suffer from persistent stunting, plus neurodevelopmental and immune disorders."

"Dr. Gordon's commitment to improving human health, especially that of malnourished children, is one that Agilent is proud to support," said Todd Christian, Agilent's senior director of global marketing. Christian is the executive sponsor of this award. "With this award, Dr. Gordon's laboratory will be fully equipped to reliably collect, analyze, identify and quantify essential metabolomics data, turning it into important scientific insights."

Dr. Gordon and his lab will use Agilent solutions-state-of-the-art gas and liquid chromatographs, mass spectrometers and analytical software-to tease apart the complex relationships that exist between the gut microbiome and the body's physiology. More specifically, they will use Agilent solutions to develop GC/MS, LC/MS and analytical workflows for the study of microbial metabolites produced by the human gut microbiome.

"We are extremely grateful for this special award," Dr. Gordon said. "It will have a catalytic effect on our ability to mine the gut microbiome for metabolic products that shape many facets of our human biology. Improving the nutritional status of infants and children, as well as adults, is a pressing global health problem during this time of rapid population growth and challenges to sustainable agriculture. We believe that characterizing the metabolic machinery of the gut microbiome is a key step in the discovery of new ways to diagnose and more effectively treat malnutrition, and in developing affordable, more nutritious foods that improve human health worldwide."

The Agilent Thought Leader Award promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences, diagnostics and applied chemical markets. Information about award recipients is available at Agilent's Thought Leader website.