Understanding the role of the microbial communities in health and disease is extremely difficult due to complexity of the gut microbiota and the lack of good in vitro models for studying the complex interplay between host and microbe. Vaishnava lab uses gnotobiotic technology,  a unique and a powerful in vivo experimental approach to dissect molecular basis of host-microbe interaction. Gnotobiotic ("known life")  technology involves the use of microbiologically sterile ("germ-free") animals. The germ-free mice allow us to ask mechanistic questions concerning the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease and provides the experimental model necessary for proof of principle studies critical for translating innovative, basic discoveries into the human clinical setting.

The Vaishnava lab maintains a gnotobiotic mouse facility here at Brown University, where we rear mice under germ-free conditions in sterile plastic isolators. Food and water and other sterile supplies are imported into the isolators by docking autoclaved supply cylinders to a double-door port built into the isolator. We monitor our germ-free mice monthly for the presence of microbial contamination to ensure the sterility of the colony.