Graduate Students

I am always excited to work with talented graduate students with interests relevant to my lab, which focuses on developing novel machine learning/computational biology/wet lab approaches to further understanding of the microbiome–the trillions of microbes living on and within us. This fascinating, complex and dynamic ecosystem is crucial for human health, and when disrupted may contribute to a variety of diseases including infections, arthritis, allergies, cancer, heart and bowel disorders.

In general, I can only be a primary advisor (and provide financial support) for students enrolled at Harvard or MIT. However, I am open to co-advising students at other institutions.

If you’re interested, email me at Please include your CV and a brief description of your research interests.

Students should have a high level of interest in:

  • Developing and applying new technologies to biomedical problems.
  • Advancing knowledge of the microbiome and its role in human health and disease.
  • Having your work make an impact on healthcare outcomes.
  • Working on an interdisciplinary team and collaborating with computational, wet lab and clinical scientists.

About the lab: the Gerber Lab develops novel statistical machine learning models and high-throughput experimental systems to understand the role of the microbiota in human diseases, and applies these findings to develop new diagnostic tests and therapies. A particular focus of the Gerber Lab is understanding dynamic behaviors of host-microbial ecosystems. Our work in this area includes Bayesian statistical machine learning methods for discovering temporal patterns in microbiome data, inferring dynamical systems models from microbiome time-series data, or predicting host status from microbiome time-series data with human interpretable rules. We have applied these methods to a number of clinically relevant questions including understanding dynamic effects of antibiotics, infections and dietary changes on the microbiome, and designing bacteriotherapies for C. difficile infection and food allergy. We also apply our methods to synthetic biology problems, to engineer consortia of bacteria for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Environment:  the Gerber Lab is located in the Division of Computational Pathology, which Dr. Gerber heads, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center, which Dr. Gerber co-directs. BWH, an HMS affiliated teaching hospital is adjacent to the HMS main quad and is the second largest non-university recipient of NIH research funding. The broad mandate of the BWH Division of Computational Pathology is to develop and apply advanced computational methods for furthering the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. The Division is situated within the BWH Department of Pathology, which houses over 40+ established investigators, 50+ postdoctoral research fellows, and 100+ research support staff. In addition, BWH is part of the greater Longwood Medical Area in Boston, a rich, stimulating environment conducive to intellectual development and research collaborations, which includes HMS, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Posted in Job
Gerber lab study showing gut metabolites predict C. diff recurrence

Gerber lab study showing gut metabolites predict C. diff recurrence

Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) is the most common hospital acquired infection in the USA, with recurrence rates > 15%. Although primary CDI has been extensively linked to gut microbial dysbiosis, less is known about the factors that promote or mitigate recurrence. Using broad metabolomics data and statistics and machine learning models, Jen Dawkins, a HST PhD student and member of the Gerber lab, showed the metabolites in the gut can accurately predict C. difficile recurrence. These findings have implications for development of diagnostic tests and treatments that could ultimately short-circuit the cycle of CDI recurrence, by providing candidate metabolic biomarkers for diagnostics development, as well as offering insights into the complex microbial and metabolic alterations that are protective or permissive for recurrence.

Dawkins JJ, Allegretti JR, Gibson TE, McClure E, Delaney M, Bry L, Gerber GK. Gut metabolites predict Clostridioides difficile recurrence. Microbiome. 2022 Jun 9;10(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s40168-022-01284-1. PMID: 35681218; PMCID: PMC9178838.