Brent Williams, PhD


Assistant Professor
Phone: 212.304.5690
Fax: 212.342.9044


University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign, Illinois, BS, 1997
University of California - Irvine, California, Ph.D., Biological Sciences, 2006


Investigating the role of the intestinal and vaginal microbiome in human health
Defining host-microbiome interactions that underlie host pathology
Understanding the role of the vaginal microbiome in susceptibility to HIV and adverse pregnancy outcomes
Determining the impact of environment on microbiome disturbances and neurodevelopment
Gaining insights into the evolution of the human microbiome from extant primates


Brent L. Williams, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University. Dr. William’s research focuses on the role of the microbiome in human health and disease. The human body harbors ten times as many microbial cells as human cells, and these complex, symbiotic microbial communities play a fundamental physiological role in maintaining human health through various mechanisms relating to digestion, metabolism, immunity, protection from infections, and development.  Dr. Williams applies state-of-the-art sequencing and computational techniques to gain mechanistic insights into how disruption of the human symbiotic microbial consortium contributes to disturbed host-microbe relationships and development of pathophysiological states. His research relating to these topics is broad in scope ranging from investigations into the role of the microbiome in neurodevelopment and autism; mechanisms by which microbial metabolites influence epigenetic changes in colorectal cancer; identification of vaginal microbial community states that contribute to inflammation, adverse pregnancy outcomes and HIV risk; and evolutionary factors governing the structure of our microbiome through investigation of our closest living primate relatives.


  • Williams BL, Hornig M, Parekh T, Lipkin WI. Application of novel PCR-based methods for detection, quantitation, and phylogenetic characterization of Sutterella species in intestinal biopsy samples from children with autism and gastrointestinal disturbances. MBio. 2012 Jan 10; 3(1).
  • Rodó X, Curcoll R, Robinson M, Ballester J, Burns JC, Cayan DR, Lipkin WI, Williams BL, et al. Tropospheric winds from northeastern China carry the etiologic agent of Kawasaki disease from its source to Japan. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 3;111(22):7952-7. 
  • Gonzalez-Perez G, Hicks AL, Tekieli TM, Radens CM, Williams BL, Lamouse-Smith ES. Maternal antibiotic treatment impacts development of the neonatal intestinal microbiome and antiviral immunity. J Imunol. 2016 May1; 196(9).
  • Masson L, Passmore JA, Liebenberg LJ, Werner L, Baxter C, Arnold KB, Williamson C, Little F, Mansoor LE, Naranbhai V, Lauffenburger DA, Ronacher K, Walzl G, Garrett NJ, Williams BL, Couto-Rodriguez M, Hornig M, Lipkin WI, Grobler A, Abdool Karim Q, Abdool Karim SS. Genital Inflammation and the Risk of HIV Acquisition in Women. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Apr 21
  • Williams BL, Hornig M, Buie T, Bauman ML, Cho Paik M, et al. Impaired carbohydrate digestion and transport and mucosal dysbiosis in the intestines of children with autism and gastrointestinal disturbances. PLoS One 2011; 6(9): e24585. 
  • Honkavuori KS, Shivaprasad HL, Williams BL, Quan PL, Hornig M, Street C, Palacios G, Hutchison SK, Franca M, Egholm M, Briese T, Lipkin WI (2008). Novel Borna Virus in Psittacine Birds with Proventricular Dilatation, Disease. Emerging Infectious Diseases 14: 1883-1886.
  • Williams BL, Hornig M, Yaddanapudi K, Lipkin WI (2008). Hippocampal Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase 1 and caspase 3 activation in neonatal Bornavirus infection. Journal of Virology 82: 1748-1758.
  • Williams BL, Yaddanapudi K, Kirk CM, Hornig M, Lipkin WI (2007). Spatiotemporal analysis of cerebellar Purkinje cell degeneration relative to parasagittal expression domains in a model of neonatal viral infection. Journal of Virology 81: 2675-2687.
  • Williams BL, Lipkin WI (2006).  Endoplasmic reticulum stress and neurodegeneration in rats neonatally infected with Borna disease virus.  Journal of Virology 80: 8613-8626.
  • Williams BL, Yaddanapudi K, Kirk CM, Soman A, Hornig M, Lipkin WI (2006).  Metallothioneins and zinc dysregulation contribute to neurodevelopmental damage in a model of perinatal viral infection.  Brain Pathology 16: 1-14.

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