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About US

Maldonado-Contreras Lab

The Maldonado-Contreras’ lab is focused on developing dietary interventions targeting microbiome-immune interactions to reduce inflammation. About half of all-American adults have one or more preventable chronic illnesses related to poor diet. Severe inflammation is at the heart of these chronic diet-related illnesses and is linked to perturbation of the gut microbiome. Diet is a modifiable, non-invasive, inexpensive lifestyle change that demonstrably and rapidly shapes the microbiome. While many molecular mechanisms underpinning the diet-microbiome-immune interaction are being revealed, the translation of these findings to dietary recommendations is yet to materialize. To advance and translate this research to health care applications, my laboratory uses a novel approach that integrates: 1) clinical nutritional trials; 2) state-of-the-art multi-omics methodology; and 3) robust and validated, predictive analytic and computational frameworks. Our mission is to empower patients by advancing evidence-based dietary interventions that take into account individual characteristics of a patient combined with the mechanistic understanding of food effects on disease outcomes. Do you want to join us in our mission? We are seeking a post-doctoral fellow with a background in statistics and bioinformatics and with interest in the intersection between basic and clinical research.

Please send an e-mail with your CV to: Or… if you want to $help$ to achieve our mission, also contact us at:

We are recruiting participants for our studies see more here [hyperlink to clinical trial tab]

Meet Ana


Ana Maldonado-Contreras, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Ana is a clinical translational researcher interested in understanding the interaction of diet, the microbiota, and disease. Ana received a B.S. in Biology in her hometown Punto Fijo in Venezuela at the Universidad del Zulia in 2002. Then, received a MS in Microbiology in Caracas at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas and a Ph.D. at the University of Puerto Rico under the supervision of Maria Dominguez-Bello. From 2009-2015 she conducted a postdoctoral research at the University of Massachusetts in Beth McCormick’s lab with the support of the Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program. In 2015, Ana became a faculty member of the Microbiology and Physiological system Department at UMASS supported by the Faculty Diversity Scholar Program. "I am fascinated about human ecology, specifically how our bodies host and interact with an immense universe of life forms from which we benefit from. Understanding the interconnection between microbes and health is the main driver of my career. On my spare time I enjoy hiking, cooking for friends and family, re-decorating my house, and snowboarding in the wintertime.
Prof. Ana Maldonado-Contreras Assistant Professor  Google Scholar    NCBI    

Lab Members


Caitlin received her BS in Biology with a double major in Chemistry from Worcester State University in 2016. Caitlin is responsible for overseeing all the activities related to our clinical trials. She works on recruitment, consenting, and follow-up of participants throughout the durations of interventional studies. She serves as a liaison between study participants and our research team.

"I love working in the sciences; I find reward in understanding and exploring the biological and chemical aspects of the microbiome. Outside of the sciences, I really enjoy being adventurous with food, cooking, and playing with puppies"

Caitlin Cawley

Research  Coordinator  

Mayra received her B.S. in Biology and Biotechnology Specialization at the National School of Biological Sciences of the National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico. Mayra is responsible for sample organization, optimizing experimental protocols, performing microbiome sequencing, and executing complementary ‘in vitro’ experiments.

"My career as a scientist has been shaped by my strong desire to understand how systems, the world, and the universe work. It is very interesting to me to understand how the microbial colonization starts in the gut as an infant and how external factors such as the nutrition and habits are related with the increasing number of diseases, syndromes, and functional aberrations. I am currently performing 16S rRNA sequencing to study bacterial phylogeny and taxonomy of the gut. In my spare time I enjoy reading poetry, and about history, arts, politics, and science. I love to watch movies and documentaries"

Mayra Correa-Rojas

Laboratory Technician  

Rene received her BA in Biochemistry from Smith College, class of 2015. She is currently finishing her MS in Nutrition at UMass Amherst, Class of 2020. Rene has been extensively trained into the IBD-AID™. Rene provide IBD-AID™ counseling to participants of our interventional trials.

“My interests are working with people who have IBD and other chronic diseases, to help them incorporate diet and lifestyle changes to alleviate symptoms and to be able to live their best and most healthful lives. My hobbies include drumming in a hardcore/punk band, cooking, baking, and yoga”

Rene Maserati

Nutritional Coordinator  


Juan Toscano, Laboratory Technician, Current: Research Technician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center