Helen Vuong

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Research Interests:

I am interested in how microbes in the gut can impact the brain. My lab uses mouse models to study how different microbiomes can shape how the brain develops, how neural circuits form to drive behavior,  and how disruptions in brain development and function contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. One theme of our group is Microbiome and Development of the Nervous System, where we study how the microbiome at different developmental windows (prenatal or postnatal) modulates the development and function of neural cells (neurons and glia). The second theme of our research group is Microbiota and Gene/environment Interactions, where we investigate how the microbiome responds to genetic and environmental challenges, and how that in turn regulates brain development and function, and behaviors. The third theme of our research group is Human Microbiota in Neurological Health and Disease, where we explore how the human microbiome is altered during different stages of healthy brain development and in the context of different neurological disorders. Some techniques we employ to probe these themes include, gnotobiotic animals, metagenomics, single-cell and bulk RNA sequencing, metabolomics and proteomics, and in vivo brain imaging during sensory, cognitive, anxiety, and social behaviors.


  • Vuong HE. Intersections of the microbiome and early neurodevelopment. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2022;167:1-23.
  • Borowski AN, Vuong HE. Crushing it: Indole-3 propionate promotes axonal regeneration in mice. Cell Host Microbe. 2022 Sep 14;30(9):1189-1191.
  • Vuong HE, Coley EJL, Kazantsev M, Cooke ME, Rendon TK, Paramo J, Hsiao EY. Interactions between maternal fluoxetine exposure, the maternal gut microbiome and fetal neurodevelopment in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2021 Jul 23;410:113353.
  • Vuong HE, Pronovost GN, Williams DW, Coley EJL, Siegler EL, Qiu A, Kazantsev M, Wilson CJ, Rendon T, Hsiao EY. The maternal microbiome modulates fetal neurodevelopment in mice. Nature. 2020 Oct;586(7828):281-286.
  • Vuong HE, Hsiao EY. Gut microbes join the social network. Neuron. 2019 Jan 16;101(2):196-198.
  • Olson CA, Vuong HE, Yano JM, Liang QY, Nusbaum DJ, Hsiao EY. The gut microbiota mediates the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet. Cell. 2018 Jun 14;173(7):1728-1741.e13.
  • Vuong HE, Yano JM, Fung TC, Hsiao EY. The microbiome and host behavior.  Annu Rev Neurosci. 2017 Jul 25;40:21-49.
  • Vuong HE, Hsiao EY. Emerging roles for the gut microbiome in autism spectrum disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2017 Mar 1;81(5):411-423.

Current Graduate Students

Chloe Puglisi (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)

Picture of Helen Vuong