The University of Massachusetts Amherst

David A. Sela

Assistant Professor

Our research seeks to better understand the mechanisms by which nutritive molecules promote health. We seek to solve chronic diseases primarily through preventative dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

Current Research

We use sequence-based genomic approaches to investigate the structure and function of microbial communities within the gut. These ecosystems are often collectively referred to as the human microbiome. In addition, we investigate mechanistic linkages between food and health emanating from host-microbial molecular interactions. 

We view microbes as the vehicle to deliver bioactive molecules, the bioactives themselves to be delivered, as well as the endogenous targets to manipulate in the human gastrointestinal tract. To address the latter, we investigate molecules derived from food to dictate the function of beneficial subpopulations within the gut. Our primary model in this endeavor is breast milk and its role in guiding the infant gut microbiome. Moreover, we seek to innovate the next generation of orally administered microbes, commonly referred to as probiotics. To this end, we seek partnerships with industrial and clinical partners in order to translate the scientific knowledge of our research activities.

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Academic Background

  • BS State University of New York, New Paltz, 2003
  • MS University of California, Davis, 2006
  • PhD University of California, Davis 2010
  • Postdoctoral Training: Stanford University
  • Postdoctoral Training: Foods for Health Institute, University of California, Davis
Yeung, TW, Üçok, EF, Tiani, KA, McClements, DJ, and Sela, DA. (2016) Microencapsulation in alginate and chitosan microgels to enhance viability of Bifidobacterium longum for oral delivery. Frontiers in Microbiology. Apr 19;7:494. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00494 PMID:27148184
Yeung, TW, Arroyo, IJ, McClements, DJ, and Sela, DA. (2015) Microencapsulation of probiotics in hydrogel particles: enhancing Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris LM0230 viability using calcium alginate beads. Food & Function DOI: 10.1039/C5FO00801H PMID: 26611443
The marriage of nutrigenomics with the microbiome: the case of infant-associated bifidobacteria and milk. DA Sela and DA Mills. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 99 (3), 697S-703S 2014
An infant-associated bacterial commensal utilizes breast milk sialyloligosaccharides DA Sela, Y Li, L Lerno, S Wu, AM Marcobal, JB German, X Chen, CB Lebrilla . Journal of Biological Chemistry 286 (14), 11909 27 2011
Nursing our microbiota: molecular linkages between bifidobacteria and milk oligosaccharides DA Sela, DA Mills. Trends in microbiology 18 (7), 298-307 74 2010
The genome sequence of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis reveals adaptations for milk utilization within the infant microbiome. DA Sela, J Chapman, A Adeuya, JH Kim, F Chen, TR Whitehead, A Lapidus, DA Mills. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (48), 18964 202 2008
Role of hypermutability in the evolution of the genus Oenococcus. AM Marcobal, DA Sela, YI Wolf, KS Makarova, DA Mills Journal of bacteriology 190 (2), 564-570 38 2008
Glycoprofiling of bifidobacterial consumption of human milk oligosaccharides demonstrates strain specific, preferential consumption of small chain glycans secreted in early human lactation RG LoCascio, MR Ninonuevo, SL Freeman, DA Sela, R Grimm, CB Lebrilla, DA Mills . Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55 (22), 8914-8919 97 2007
Contact Info

Department of Food Science
340 Chenoweth Laboratory
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-1010