Dr. Karen E. Nelson is the Chief Scientific Officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific. Dr. Nelson was formerly the President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and was the head of the Microbiome group at Human Longevity Inc. Originally from Jamaica, Dr. Nelson received her undergraduate degree from the University of the West Indies, and her PhD from Cornell University. She has authored or co-authored over 230 peer reviewed publications, edited three books, and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Microbial Ecology. She is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief for the newly launched PNAS Nexus. Dr. Nelson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Honorary Professor at the University of the West Indies and a Helmholtz International Fellow. Dr. Nelson has extensive experience in microbial ecology, microbial genomics, microbial physiology and metagenomics. Dr. Nelson has led several genomic and metagenomic efforts, and led the first human metagenomics study that was published in 2006.

Research Interests

The work of Dr. Nelson's group focuses on the human microbiome and its impact on health and disease. In addition to investigating emerging infectious diseases and their impact on the microbiome, team members are focused on the microbiome in metabolic disorders, and chronic disease conditions. There are also ongoing investigations on the evolution of the microbiome in humans, possibilities for probiotics, and the microbiome in aging. In addition to looking at the microbial components, circulating metabolites, gene transcripts and proteins are also giving tremendous insight into the human microbiome.

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Election Year


Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry