Assistant Professor

Tel: (901) 448-1796


  • PostDoc, University of Chicago, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Nutritional Sciences
  • B.S., University of Wisconsin, Natural Science

About Me

Joseph Pierre is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. An experimental biologist and gastrointestinal physiologist interested in how gut microbial communities (bacteria, yeast, and fungi) and their metabolites influence host homeostasis, he runs a translational science research laboratory focused on how microbes influence outcomes in bariatric surgery and how early life microbial colonization influences adolescent obesity risk. He also manages a germ-free/gnotobiotic mouse laboratory. Using germ-free animals, his lab explores the causal role that microbes play in orchestrating host metabolism by colonizing animals with defined microbial communities. He holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry and is a faculty member of the Biomedical Science Program in the Graduate Health College.

Pierre received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he studied parenteral nutrition and gut immunity. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the University of Chicago under the mentorship of Eugene B. Chang, where he explored the gut microbiome and mycobiome interactions with host metabolism and immune function.

My Current Curriculum Vitae

Research Interest/Specialty

As an experimental biologist I am fascinated by the interaction of diet, intestinal microorganisms and their metabolites, and the neuro-immune compartments in regulating intestinal and peripheral homeostasis. I employ novel in vitro and in vivo models to address translational science questions in metabolism.

Research Description

The Vision of our laboratory is to improve human health by harnessing underlying intestinal mechanisms that regulate metabolism. 

Our Mission is discovery. We pursue novel questions with translational relevance through experimental excellence, cross disciplinary teams, and mutually beneficial collaborations. Through thoughtful experimentation, we rigorously test hypotheses that elevate our understanding of intestinal physiology and microbial function that influence metabolism. Our goal is to apply our discoveries into treatments that target the underlying mechanisms of metabolic dysfunction and ultimately improve human health.  

The Gnotobiotic Facility

Our Gnotobiotic Facility maintains mice under sterile (germ-free) and defined (associated) microbial states to explore the causal relationship microbial organisms confer upon their mammalian hosts. The use of this technology enhances our ability to test important hypotheses of microbial involvement in the regulation of metabolic disease.  

Our Team


Qusai Al Abdallah, PhD, Senior Research Specialist

Kent A. Willis, MD, Neonatology Fellow

     * SSPR Clinical Science Young Investigator Award Finalist

     * AAP Marshal Klaus Awardee 2018

     * Neonatal Cardiopulmonary Biology, Excellence in Research Grantee, 2018

     * APP SoNPM, Mead Johsnson Travel award, 2019

     * SSRP Clinical Science Young Investigator Award Winner, 2019

Tahiyah Mimts, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Rhodes College)

Sydney Watts, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Rhodes College)

Neena A. Johns, Summer Medical Student

     * NIH Medical Student Research Fellowship Program, 2019


Charles Klazer Gomes, PhD, Senior Research Specialist (Now at the University of Texas-Austin)

E. Richard Moran III, Summer Medical Student

     * NIH Medical Student Research Fellowship Program, 2018

Research Keywords

 Gastrointestinal Physiology, Enteral Nutrition, Parenteral Nutrition, Microbiome, Microbiota, Bariatric Surgery


  1. Willis KA, Purvis JH, Meyers ED, Aziz MM, Karabayir I, Gomes CK, Peters BM, Akbilgic O, Talati AJ, Pierre JF. Fungi form interkingdom microbial communities in the primordial human gut that develop with gestational age. bioRxiv (Preprint), Apr 29, 2019.
  2. Pierre JF, Li Y, Gomes CK, Rao P, Chang EB, Yin DP. Bile Diversion Improves Metabolic Phenotype Dependent on Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR). Obesity. In Press, 2019.
  3. Martinez-Guryn K, Leone V, Pierre JF. Nutritional modulation of the gut microbiome in gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases. J of Nutritional Biochemistry, Special Issue (Edited), 2019.
  4. Sean C. McConnell, Erica L. Westerman, Joseph F. Pierre, Erin J Heckler, Nancy B. Schwartz. Career Choice, Gender, and Mentor Impact: Results of the U.S. National Postdoc Survey. BioRxIV (PrePrint), 2018.
  5. Wang X, Wang H, Pierre JF, Wang S, Huang H, Zhang J, Liang S, Zeng Q, Zhang C, Huang M, Ruan C, Lin J, Li H. Marine microalgae bioengineered Schizochytrium sp. meal hydrolysates inhibits acute inflammation.. Scientific Reports, 1 (8), 2018.
  6. McAllan L, Maynard KR, Kardian AS, Stayton AS, Fox LS, Stephenson EJ, Alshibli NK, Gomes CK, Pierre JF, Puchowicz MA, Gavrilova O, Bridges D, Martinowich K, Han JC. Disruption of BDNF production from individual exon promoters generates distinct body composition phenotypes in mice.. Am J Physiology – Endo and Metabolism, 2018.
  7. Sean C McConnell, Erica L Westerman, Joseph F Pierre, Erin J Heckler, Nancy B Schwartz. United States National Postdoc Survey results and the interaction of gender, career choice and mentor impact. eLIFE (7), 2018.
  8. Meisel M, Hinterleitner R, Pacis A, Chen L, Earley Z, Mayassi T, Pierre JF, Ernest J, Galipeau H, Thuille N, Bouziat, Buscarlet M, Ringus DL, Wang Y, Li Y, Dinh V, Kim S, McDonald B, Zurenski MA, Musch M, Furtado GC, Lira S, Baier G, Chang EB, Erin A, Weber C, Busque L, Godley L, Verdu E, Barrerio LB, Jabri B. Bacterial translocation is required for pre-leukemic myeloproliferation in Tet2 deficient mice. Nature, 2018.
  9. Johnson CD, Barlow AJ, Pierre JF, Erickson CS, Epstein ML, Gosain A. Deletion of Choline Acetyltransferase in enteric neurons results in intestinal dysmotility and dysbiosis. FASEB (March 23), 2018.
  10. Pierre JF, Hinterleitner R, Bouziat R, Hubert N, Leone V, Miyoshi J, Jabri B, Chang EB. Data on Changes to Mucosal Inflammation and the Intestinal Microbiota following Dietary Micronutrients in Genetically Susceptible Hosts. Data in Brief (In Press), 2018.
  11. Wun K, Theriault B, Pierre JF, Chen EB, Leone V, Harris KG, Chen E, Xiong L, Jiang T, Spedale M, Eskandari, Chang EB, Ho KJ.. Microbiota control acute arterial inflammation and neointimal hyperplasia development after arterial injury.. PLoS One, 2018.
  12. Miyoshi J, Sofia MA, Pierre JF. The Evidence for Fungus in Crohn's Disease Pathogenesis. Clinical Journal of Gastroenterology (Epub ahead), 2018.
  13. Martinez-Guryn K, Frazier K, Hubert N, Urlass S, Musch MA, Ojeda P, Pierre JF, Sontag T, Reardon C, Leone V, Chang EB. Essential role of small bowel microbiota in regulating host digestive and absorptive adaptive responses to dietary lipids. Cell Host & Microbe, 4 (23), 458-469, 2018.
  14. Pierre, JF. Gastrointestinal immune and microbiome changes during parenteral nutrition. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 312 (3), G246-G256, 2017.
  15. Pierre JF, Hinterleitner R, Bouziat R, Hubert N, Leone V, Miyoshi J, Jabri B, Chang EB. Antioxidant Micronutrients Alter Mucosal Inflammatory Risk in a Murine Model of Genetic and Microbial Susceptibility. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 54, 95-104, 2017.
  16. Martinez, KB, Pierre, JF, Chang, EB. The Gut Microbiota: The Gateway to Improved Metabolism. Gastroenterol Clin North Am, 45 (4), 601-614, 2016.
  17. Busch, RA, Heneghan, AF, Pierre, JF, Neuman, JC, Reimer, CA, Wang, X, Kimple, ME, Kudsk, KA. Bombesin Preserves Goblet Cell Resistin-Like Molecule β During Parenteral Nutrition but Not Other Goblet Cell Products. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 40 (7), 1042-9, 2016.
  18. Pierre, JF, Martinez, KB, Ye, H, Nadimpalli, A, Morton, TC, Yang, J, Wang, Q, Patno, N, Chang, EB, Yin, DP. Activation of bile acid signaling improves metabolic phenotypes in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 311 (2), G286-304, 2016.
  19. Ward, MA, Pierre, JF, Leal, RF, Huang, Y, Shogan, B, Dalal, SR, Weber, CR, Leone, VA, Musch, MW, An, GC, Rao, MC, Rubin, DT, Raffals, LE, Antonopoulos, DA, Sogin, ML, Hyman, NH, Alverdy, JC, Chang, EB. Insights into the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis from a murine model of stasis-induced dysbiosis, colonic metaplasia, and genetic susceptibility. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 310 (11), G973-88, 2016.
  20. Pierre, JF. Young Investigator Perspectives. Rethinking the biomedical postdoc: but first let's get the data. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 310 (11), G885-6, 2016.
  21. Busch, RA, Jonker, MA, Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Kudsk, KA. Innate Mucosal Immune System Response of BALB/c vs C57BL/6 Mice to Injury in the Setting of Enteral and Parenteral Feeding. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 40 (2), 256-63, 2016.
  22. Pierre, JF, Busch, RA, Kudsk, KA. The gastrointestinal immune system: Implications for the surgical patient. Curr Probl Surg, 53 (1), 11-47, 2016.
  23. Dolan KT, Pierre JF, Heckler EJ.. Revitalizing Biomedical Research: Recommendations from the Future of Research Chicago Symposium.. F1000 RESEARCH, 1548 (5), 2016.
  24. Pierre, JF, Neuman, JC, Brill, AL, Brar, HK, Thompson, MF, Cadena, MT, Connors, KM, Busch, RA, Heneghan, AF, Cham, CM, Jones, EK, Kibbe, CR, Davis, DB, Groblewski, GE, Kudsk, KA, Kimple, ME. The gastrin-releasing peptide analog bombesin preserves exocrine and endocrine pancreas morphology and function during parenteral nutrition. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 309 (6), G431-42, 2015.
  25. Wang, X, Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Busch, RA, Kudsk, KA. Glutamine Improves Innate Immunity and Prevents Bacterial Enteroinvasion During Parenteral Nutrition. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 39 (6), 688-97, 2015.
  26. Jonker, MA, Heneghan, AF, Fechner, JH, Pierre, JF, Sano, Y, Lan, J, Kudsk, KA. Gut Lymphocyte Phenotype Changes After Parenteral Nutrition and Neuropeptide Administration. Ann Surg, 262 (1), 194-201, 2015.
  27. Leone, V, Gibbons, SM, Martinez, K, Hutchison, AL, Huang, EY, Cham, CM, Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Nadimpalli, A, Hubert, N, Zale, E, Wang, Y, Huang, Y, Theriault, B, Dinner, AR, Musch, MW, Kudsk, KA, Prendergast, BJ, Gilbert, JA, Chang, EB. Effects of diurnal variation of gut microbes and high-fat feeding on host circadian clock function and metabolism. Cell Host Microbe, 17 (5), 681-9, 2015.
  28. Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Wang, X, Roenneburg, DA, Groblewski, GE, Kudsk, KA. Bombesin improves adaptive immunity of the salivary gland during parenteral nutrition. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 39 (2), 190-9, 2015.
  29. Wang X, Pierre JF, Kudsk KA.. Parenteral nutrition, critical illness, Paneth cell function and the innate immune response in Diet and Nutrition in Critical Care,. Victor Preedy PhD ed. - Springer Publishing, 2015.
  30. Gosain, A, Barlow-Anacker, AJ, Erickson, CS, Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Epstein, ML, Kudsk, KA. Impaired Cellular Immunity in the Murine Neural Crest Conditional Deletion of Endothelin Receptor-B Model of Hirschsprung's Disease. PLoS One, 10 (6), e0128822, 2014.
  31. Heneghan, AF, Pierre, JF, Tandee, K, Shanmuganayagam, D, Wang, X, Reed, JD, Steele, JL, Kudsk, KA. Parenteral nutrition decreases paneth cell function and intestinal bactericidal activity while increasing susceptibility to bacterial enteroinvasion. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 38 (7), 817-24, 2014.
  32. Busch, RA, Heneghan, AF, Pierre, JF, Wang, X, Kudsk, KA. The enteric nervous system neuropeptide, bombesin, reverses innate immune impairments during parenteral nutrition. Ann Surg, 260 (3), 432-43; discussion 443-4, 2014.
  33. Pierre, JF, Barlow-Anacker, AJ, Erickson, CS, Heneghan, AF, Leverson, GE, Dowd, SE, Epstein, ML, Kudsk, KA, Gosain, A. Intestinal dysbiosis and bacterial enteroinvasion in a murine model of Hirschsprung's disease. J Pediatr Surg, 49 (8), 1242-51, 2014.
  34. Pierre JF, Heneghan AF, Feliciano RP, Shanmuganayagam D, Krueger CG, Reed JD, Kudsk KA.. Cranberry proanthocyanidins improve intestinal sIgA during elemental enteral nutrition.. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr., 1 (38), 107-14, 2014.
  35. Heneghan AF1, Pierre JF, Gosain A, Kudsk KA.. IL-25 improves luminal innate immunity and barrier function during parenteral nutrition.. Ann Surg., 2 (259), 394-400, 2014.
  36. Kudsk KA & Pierre JF.. Nutrition and Immunity of the Gut.. Metabolic Medicine and Surgery. edited by Michael M. Rothkopf and Michael J. Nusbaum. CRC Press., 2014.
  37. Heneghan, AF, Pierre, JF, Kudsk, KA. JAK-STAT and intestinal mucosal immunology. JAKSTAT, 2 (4), e25530, 2013.
  38. Erickson, CS, Barlow, AJ, Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Epstein, ML, Kudsk, KA, Gosain, A. Colonic enteric nervous system analysis during parenteral nutrition. J Surg Res, 184 (1), 132-7, 2013.
  39. Pierre, JF, Heneghan, AF, Lawson, CM, Wischmeyer, PE, Kozar, RA, Kudsk, KA. Pharmaconutrition review: physiological mechanisms. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr, 37 (5 Suppl), 51S-65S, 2013.
  40. Zaitoun I, Erickson CS, Barlow AJ, Klein TR, Heneghan AF, Pierre JF, Epstein ML, Gosain A.. Altered neuronal density and neurotransmitter expression in the ganglionated region of Ednrb null mice: implications for Hirschsprung's disease.. Neurogastroenterol Motil., 3 (25), 233-44, 2013.
  41. Pierre JF, Heneghan AF, Feliciano RP, Shanmuganayagam D, Roenneburg DA, Krueger CG, Reed JD, Kudsk KA.. Cranberry proanthocyanidins improve the gut mucous layer morphology and function in mice receiving elemental enteral nutrition.. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr., 3 (37), 401-9, 2013.
  42. Pierre JF, Heneghan AF, Shea MP, Meudt J, Reed JD, Kudsk KA, Shanmuganayagam D.. Parenteral Nutrition Increases Susceptibility of Ileum to Invasion by E. coli.. J Surg Res., 2 (183), 583-91, 2013.
  43. Heneghan AF, Pierre JF, Kudsk KA.. IL-25 improves IgA levels during parenteral nutrition through the JAK-STAT pathway.. Ann Surg., 6 (258), 1065-71, 2013.
  44. Omata J, Pierre JF, Heneghan AF, Tsao FH, Sano Y, Jonker MA, Kudsk KA.. Parenteral nutrition suppresses the bactericidal response of the small intestine.. Surgery., 1 (153), 17-24, 2013.
  45. Tsao FH, Culver BJ, Pierre JF, Shanmuganayagam D, Patten CC Jr, Meyer KC.. Effect of prophylactic supplementation with grape polyphenolics on endotoxin-induced serum secretory phospholipase A2 activity in rats.. Comp Med., 4 (62), 271-8, 2012.
  46. Lan J, Heneghan AF, Sano Y, Jonker MA, Omata J, Xu W, Pierre JF, Kudsk KA.. Parenteral nutrition impairs lymphotoxin β receptor signaling via NF-κB.. Ann Surg., 5 (253), 996-1003, 2011.
  47. Pierre JF, Heneghan AF, Tsao FH, Sano Y, Jonker MA, Omata J, Lan J, Kudsk KA.. Route and type of nutrition and surgical stress influence secretory phospholipase A2 secretion of the murine small intestine.. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr., 6 (35), 748-56, 2011.