Team Bios

  • Purna C. Kashyap, M.B.B.S.
    • Director, Gut Microbiome Laboratory
    • Combining his expertise in gastrointestinal physiology and microbial ecology, Dr. Kashyap studies the mechanisms by which gut microbes alter gastrointestinal function and their relevance to disorders associated with microbial dysbiosis.

      Dr. Kashyap completed his medical school training at Bangalore Medical College, now Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, in India before moving to the U.S. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

      His fellowship was in gastroenterology and hepatology at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, with a focus on gastrointestinal motility disorders. His interest in the role of gut microbiota in maintaining normal gastrointestinal function then led him to spend two years studying microbial ecology in the laboratory of Justin L. Sonnenburg, Ph.D., at Stanford University.

      Upon returning to Mayo Clinic, Dr. Kashyap set up the Gut Microbiome Laboratory to study diet-gut microbiota-host interactions and their relevance in functional bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, infectious conditions such as Clostridioides difficile infection, metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, and inflammatory processes such as inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Yogesh Bhattarai, Ph.D.
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr. Bhattarai uses a combination of electrophysiology, pharmacology and imaging studies to study the impact of intestinal microbes and associated metabolites on host physiology.

      He earned his Bachelor of Science in biological and agricultural engineering from the University of Idaho and his doctorate in neuroscience from Michigan State University under the mentorship of James J. Galligan, Ph.D. During his doctorate, Dr. Bhattarai was involved in translational research that aimed to identify the etiology of obesity-induced gastrointestinal motility disorders.

  • Ruben A. Mars, Ph.D.
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr. Mars seeks to increase the mechanistic understanding of the microbiome in human health and disease and its potential to serve as a new therapeutic paradigm. He is particularly interested in employing metabolomics and other omics technologies to identify microbiome-related molecules and their mechanisms.

      Dr. Mars received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. During his doctoral research, he focused on identifying functions of genetic regulatory elements in bacteria. He then moved to the lab of Prof. Dr. Uwe Sauer at ETH Zurich to work on multiple collaborative microbiome projects, including quantifying the metabolic impact that single species have in gut microbial ecosystems through untargeted metabolomics.

  • Meng Pu, Ph.D.
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    • Dr. Pu is interested in dissecting the mechanisms by which microbes form biofilms in the gut and how these mechanisms affect gastrointestinal physiology and resistance to opportunistic enteric pathogens.

      Dr. Pu earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Nanjing Agricultural University in China. After completing her bachelor's degree, she transitioned to Indiana University Bloomington, where she earned a doctorate in biochemistry and a master's degree in applied statistics under the mentorship of Dean Rowe-Magnus, Ph.D., studying Vibrio vulnificus biofilm formation and Type IV Iam pili.

  • Jie Si
    • Visiting Predoctoral Student
    • Jie Si is interested in studying the effect of bacterially derived tryptamine on intestinal physiology in inflammatory conditions. Jie earned his bachelor of science in clinical pharmacy from China Medical University and is a master's degree student from China Medical University School of Pharmacy.

  • Sarah L. Becker
    • Graduate Research Education Program Student
    • Sarah Becker is studying biofilm formation in the pathogenicity and recurrence of C. difficile infection and the role of lifestyle factors on the gut microbiome and overall health. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts from Williams College, where she did an honors thesis investigating the effect of artificial sweeteners on the gut microbiota.

  • Daniel (Dan) A. Schupack, M.D.
    • Fellow, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
    • Dr. Schupack is studying the role of mucosal microbiome in C. difficile infection to identify novel predictive markers for pathogenicity and recurrence.

      He earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Mayo Clinic.

  • Janice M. Cho, M.D.
    • Fellow, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
    • Dr. Cho is studying the role of gut microbiome and host factors in primary and recurrent C. difficile infection.

      She earned her Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her medical degree from Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and Science. Dr. Cho was involved in research investigating HIV vaccine development and pathogenic mycology prior to her time at Mayo Clinic.

  • Heather R. Lekatz
    • Certified Associate Clinical Research Coordinator
    • Heather Lekatz is an associate clinical research coordinator in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology for studies related to the gut microbiome. She coordinates and ensures implementation of clinical research protocols and monitors research activity and subject participation.

      Heather is a graduate of the clinical research coordinator program at Mayo School of Health Sciences (now known as Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences). She completed her fieldwork at Mayo Clinic in the Pulmonary Clinical Research Unit. She is certified by the Society of Clinical Research Associates.

  • Lisa M. Till
    • Research Technologist, Gnotobiotic Specialist
    • Lisa Till manages the needs of Mayo Clinic's gnotobiotic facility, which is run by Dr. Kashyap's lab. She maintains the gnotobiotic breeding colony and supports the needs of the facility's users.

      Lisa earned her Bachelor of Science in animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She began working at Mayo Clinic in the Office of Clinical Trials and then moved on to the Department of Comparative Medicine. She earned her Laboratory Animal Technician certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

  • William J. Moor
    • Animal Care Specialist II, Gnotobiotic Specialist
    • William Moor's focus is on assisting with the needs of Mayo Clinic's gnotobiotic facility and the needs of the investigators using the facility.

      William completed his Associate of Applied Science as a veterinary technician at Rochester Community and Technical College, and has earned his Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician certificate from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. He began working at Mayo Clinic in the Department of Comparative Medicine.