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Katherine Lemon
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Katherine P.  Lemon, MD, PhD

Department: Medicine
Research Centers:
Hospital Title: Associate Physician in Medicine
Academic Title: Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Research Area: Human Upper Respiratory Tract Microbiome
Bacterial interspecies interactions
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Research Overview

Dr. Lemon and her laboratory use a multi-disciplinary approach that includes bacterial genetics, molecular biology, small molecule discovery, microbial ecology and the newer -omics to gain an in-depth understanding of the role and dynamics of the human microbiome in health and disease, with a focus on the nose and throat.

Bacteria live on us, “in” us, and on surfaces all around us. Among the common constituents of healthy upper respiratory tract microbiota are some of the most significant bacterial pathogens, e.g., Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The carriage rate and disease burden of these pathogens is particularly high in children. The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant clones, such as community acquired-methicillin resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA), accentuates the urgent need for new therapies to both treat and prevent these infections. Interestingly, some people do not carry either S. aureus or S. pneumoniae and are, therefore, at low risk for infection. This leads to the hypothesis that, among the constituents of nostril and throat microbiota, there are beneficial microbes that interfere with pathogen carriage. Such beneficial bacteria could be the basis for novel prophylactics/therapeutics. The long-term research goal of the Lemon Lab is to develop new, and sustainable, approaches to manage the composition of upper respiratory tract microbiota in order to prevent infections.

About Katherine Lemon

Dr. Lemon is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She is also an Assistant Member of Staff at the Forsyth Institute, which is affiliated with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, where her laboratory is located. Dr. Lemon received her Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She completed her pediatric residency and a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Boston Children's Hospital. She completed mentored research with Dr. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School prior to starting her own laboratory at the Forsyth.

Key Publications

Lemon KP, Armitage GC, Relman DA, Fischbach MA. Microbiota-Targeted Therapies: An Ecological Perspective. Review. Science Translational Medicine. 2012; 4(137):137rv5.

The Human Microbiome Project Consortium. Structure, Function and Diversity of the Healthy Human Microbiome. Nature. 2012; 486 (7402):215-21.

Segata N, Kinder Haake S§, Mannon P§, Lemon KP§, Waldron L, Gevers D, Huttenhower C, Izard J. Composition of the Adult Digestive Tract Bacterial Microbiome Based on Seven Mouth Surfaces, Tonsils, Throat and Stool Samples. Genome Biology. 2012; 13(6):R42. (§contributed equally)

Lemon KP, Klepac-Ceraj V, Schiffer HK, Brodie EL, Lynch SV, and Kolter R.  Comparative analyses of the bacterial microbiota of the human nostril and oropharynx.  mBio. 2010; 1(3): pii: e00129-10.

Klepac-Ceraj V, Lemon KP, Martin TR, Allgaier M, Kembel SW, Knapp AA, Lory S, Brodie EL, Lynch SV, Bohannan BJM, Green JL, Maurer BA and Kolter R. Relationship Between Cystic Fibrosis Respiratory Tract Bacterial Communities and Age, Genotype, Antibiotics and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  Environmental Microbiology. 2010; 12(5):1293-1303.

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