The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Michael A. Henson


Our research focuses on system-scale metabolic models with applications to microbial communities involved in human health and renewable biochemical production. We work with a number of experimental collaborators who generate in vitro and in vivo data for model development and validation with the goal of rationalizing, quantifying, predicting and manipulating microbial system behavior. We expect our integrated experimental-computational approach to generate new antibiotic treatment regimens for human infections and scalable technology for renewable bioproduction of fuels and chemicals.

Current Research

Projects related to Models to Medicine theme include:

  1. Our current human health related research is focused on large-scale metabolic modeling of bacterial communities associated with cystic fibrosis lung infections, chronic wound skin infections and Clostridioides difficile gut infections.
  2. Our current renewable biochemical production research includes spatiotemporal metabolic modeling of engineered bacterial biofilm communities and large-scale gas fermentation reactors.

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Academic Background

  • BS Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1985
  • MS Chemical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, 1988
  • PhD Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992
Henson, M. A., G. Orazi, P. Phalak and G. A. O'Toole, “Metabolic Modeling of Cystic Fibrosis Airway Communities Predicts Mechanisms of Pathogen Dominance,” mSystems, 10.1128/mSystems.00026-19 (2019).
Patel, A., R. P. Carlson and M. A. Henson, ''In silico Metabolic Design of Two-species Biofilm Systems Predicts Enhanced Biomass Production and Biochemical Synthesis,” Biotechnology Journal, (2019).
Carlson, R. P., A. E. Beck, P. Phalak W. W. Fields, T. Gedeon, L. Hanley, W. S. Harcombe, M. A. Henson and J. J. Heys, “Competitive Resource Allocation to Metabolic Pathways Contributes to Overflow Metabolisms and Emergent Properties in Cross Feeding Microbial Consortia,” Biochemical Society Transactions, 26, 269-284, doi: 10.1042/BST2017024 (2018).
Henson, M. A. and P. Phalak, “Suboptimal Community Growth Mediated through Metabolite Crossfeeding Promotes Species Diversity in the Gut Microbiota,” PLOS Computational Biology, 14(10): e1006558, (2018).
Chen, J., D. Griffin, X. Li and M. A. Henson, “Experimental Testing of a Spatiotemporal Metabolic Model for Carbon Monoxide Fermentation with Clostridium autoethanogenum,” Biochemical Engineering Journal, 129, 64-73, doi: 10.1016/j.bej.2017.10.018 (2018).
Henson, M. A. and P. Phalak, “Byproduct Cross Feeding and Community Stability in an In Silico Biofilm Model of the Gut Microbiome,'' Processes, 5, 13, doi:10.3390/pr5010013 (2017).
Henson, M. A. and P. Phalak, “Microbiota Dysbiosis in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: In silico Investigation of the Oxygen Hypothesis,” BMC Systems Biology, 11, 145, doi: 10.1186/s12918-017-0522-1 (2017).
Noguchi, T., T. Leise, N. Kingsbury, T. Diemer, L. Wang, M. A. Henson, and D. Welsh, “Calcium Circadian Rhythmicity in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus: Cell Autonomy and Network Modulation,” eNeuro, doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0160-17 (2017).
Kingsbury, N. J., S. R. Taylor and M. A. Henson, “Inhibitory and Excitatory Networks Balance Cell Coupling in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus: A Modeling Approach,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 397, 135-144, doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2016.02.039 (2016).
Contact Info

Department of Chemical Engineering
N267 Life Science Laboratory
240 Thatcher Way
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-3481