Curtis Huttnehower

Associate Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Harvard School of Public Health
Department of Biostatistics
655 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-432-4912

Lab Size: Between 10 and 15


My research focuses on computational biology at the intersection of microbial community function and human health. The human body carries some four pounds of microbes, primarily in the gut, and understanding their biomolecular functions, their impact on human hosts, and the metabolic and functional roles of microbial communities generally is one of the key areas of study enabled by high-throughput sequencing. First, computational methods are needed to advance functional metagenomics. How can we understand what a microbial community is doing, what small molecule metabolites or signaling mechanisms it's employing, and how its function relates to its organismal composition? Second, our understanding of the human microbiome and its relationship with public health remains limited. Pathogens have been examined by centuries of microbiology and epidemiology, but we know relatively little about the transmission or heritability of the normal commensal microbiota, its carriage of pathogenic functionality, or its interaction with host immunity, environment, and genetics. Finally, more broadly, novel machine learning methodology is needed to leverage structured biological knowledge in high-dimensional genomic data analysis. In other words, we need to turn all of these new data into biology! My group works on a variety of computational methods for data mining in microbial communities, model organisms, pathogens, and the human genome.


Franzosa, E. A., Morgan, X. C., Segata, N., Waldron, L., Reyes, J., Earl, A. M., … Huttenhower, C. (2014). Relating the metatranscriptome and metagenome of the human gut. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(22), E2329–E2338.

Franzosa, E. A., Huang, K., Meadow, J. F., Gevers, D., Lemon, K. P., Bohannan, B. J. M., & Huttenhower, C. (2015). Identifying personal microbiomes using metagenomic codes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(22), E2930–E2938.

Langille, M. G. I., Zaneveld, J., Caporaso, J. G., McDonald, D., Knights, D., Reyes, J. A., … Huttenhower, C. (2013). Predictive functional profiling of microbial communities using 16S rRNA marker gene sequences. Nature Biotechnology, 31(9), 814–821.

Morgan, X. C., Tickle, T. L., Sokol, H., Gevers, D., Devaney, K. L., Ward, D. V., … Huttenhower, C. (2012). Dysfunction of the intestinal microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease and treatment. Genome Biology, 13(9), R79.

The Human Microbiome Project Consortium. (2012). Structure, Function and Diversity of the Healthy Human Microbiome. Nature, 486(7402), 207–214.