Faculty Profile

Vanessa Leone
Section of Gastroenterology
Instructor of Medicine

Academic Interests

Dr. Leone is currently an Instructor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Chicago. She obtained her PhD in Animal Science and Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Here, her work focused on the effects of maternal dietary supplementation on embryogenesis using an avian model. In her postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago, Dr. Leone shifted the focus of her work to examine the influence of the gut microbiome on complex disease development. Studies have shown that lifestyle changes, particularly Western, high fat high carbohydrate diet-induced gut microbiota plays a role in the development of metabolic disturbances, including obesity and Type II diabetes. Dr. Leone’s recent work suggests that gut microbes exhibit day versus night (or diurnal) oscillatory patterns, which are crucial to maintain the host circadian system. Coordination between our ‘gut microbial clock’ and our own circadian clock aids in synchronizing host metabolic function. The goal of her current studies is to determine how the diurnal patterns of diet-induced gut microbiota influence the host circadian system in the context of diet-induced obesity. In performing these studies, Dr. Leone hopes to mechanistically define what makes up a microbial oscillator versus a non-oscillator, examine how specific host factors impact the broader diurnal structure and functional capacity of the gut microbiome, and what the underlying implications of microbial oscillations are for host physiological homeostasis. Together, the long-term goal of Dr. Leone’s research is to determine how oscillations of gut microbes influence diurnal dynamics of intestinal host factors that aid in maintenance of a host-microbe symbiotic relationship. This knowledge could lead to development of new strategies to prevent and treat diet-induced obesity.

Clinical Interests



  • MR Minter, C Zhang, V Leone, DL Ringus, X Zhang, P Oyler-Castrillo, MW Musch, F Liao, JF Ward, DM Holtzman, EB Chang, RE Tanzi, SS Sisodia. 2016. Antibiotic-induced perturbations in gut microbial diversity influences neuro-inflammation and amyloidosis in a murine model of Alzheimer’s disease. Sci Rep. 6:30028. PMID: 27443609
  • K Kamdar, S Khakpour, J Chen, V Leone, J Brulc, T Mangatu, DA Antonopoulos, EB Chang, SA Kahn, BS Kirschner, G Young, RW DePaolo. 2016. Genetic and Metabolic Signals during Acute Enteric Bacterial Infection Alter the Microbiota and Drive Progression to Chronic Inflammatory Disease. Cell Host Microbe. 19(1):21-31. PMID: 26764594.
  • EY Huang, T Inoue, VA Leone, S Dalal, K Touw, Y Wang, MW Musch, B Theriault, K Higuchi, S Donovan, J Gilbert, and EB Chang. 2015. Using corticosteroids to reshape the gut microbiome: implications for inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 21(5):963-72. PMCID: PMC4402247.
  • S Devkota, Y Wang, MW Musch, V Leone, H Fehlner-Peach, A Nadimpalli, DA Antonopoulos, B Jabri, and EB Chang. 2012. Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10-/- mice. Nature. 487: 104-108. PMCID: PMC3393783.
  • V Leone, SM Gibbons, K Martinez, AL Hutchison, EY Huang, CM Cham, JF Pierre, AF Heneghan, A Nadimpalli, N Hubert, E Zale, Y Wang, Y Huang, B Theriault, AR Dinner, MW Musch, KA Kudsk, BJ Prendergast, JA Gilbert, and EB Chang. 2015. 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. PMCID: PMC4433408.
For a complete list of publications click here:


  • BS, 2003, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Animal Science
  • PhD, 2009, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Animal Science
  • Fellowship, 2010, University of Chicago, Pathology