Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science
Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology
Adjunct Professor, Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Dr. David Sela earned his doctorate in microbiology at UC Davis followed by postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford School of Medicine and the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute. Currently, Dr. Sela holds appointments at the Dept. of Food Science and the Dept. of Microbiology at UMass Amherst. Dr. Sela has an adjunct faculty appointment in the Dept. of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the UMass Medical School.
Dr. Sela studies molecular constituents secreted in breast milk that interact with commensal bacteria to impact infant health. The Sela Lab routinely uses molecular microbiology and ecology approaches, genomics (comparative and functional), transcriptomics, metagenomics, and attendant informatic/statistical approaches. The overarching mission of the Sela Lab is to translate nutrition research to enhance infant health and other stages of human development. In addition to human milk, the Sela Lab broadly studies dietary molecules that interact with members of the gut microbiome with relevancy to host health. This includes plant-derived products as well food-grade antimicrobials that potentially disrupt microbiome structure and function.
Dr. Sela is committed to promoting human milk and lactation research through leadership within several scientific communities. Accordingly, Dr. Sela is the past-chair of the Maternal, Perinatal, and Pediatric Research Interest Section (RIS) of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). From this position he served as an ex officio member on the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Executive Committee. Furthermore, Dr. Sela established and chairs a new ASN RIS on Nutritional Microbiology. This RIS is responsible for advancing microbiome, probiotic/prebiotic, and fermented foods research among nutrition scientists. Moreover, Dr. Sela is the lead organizer of the next FASEB science research conference on human milk bioactives to be held in July 2019. In addition to human milk and nutrition societies, Dr. Sela is an internationally recognized leader within the bifidobacterial research community. Accordingly, he served on the organizing committee of the international conference on bifidobacteria (Propiobifido 2016). Dr. Sela is a member of the editorial boards for Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Frontiers in Nutrition.
Human milk delivers bioactive molecules critical to infant development, homeostasis, and health. A fraction of these molecules are partially or fully indigestible and thus delivered to the infant gut. This includes human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) that provide functions beyond their potential nutritive value. Accordingly, microbes interact with human milk molecules to modulate the emergent physiology of microbiomes established along the infant gastrointestinal tract. The genomics and molecular microbiology underlying reciprocal interactions between beneficial bifidobacterial populations and bioactive milk molecules will be presented.