2024 Research Consultants

Bened Life’s team of research consultants for 2024 is led by Jack Gilbert.

The team is currently designing a clinical trial with Autistic adults.

Jack Gilbert, PhD

Professor, Pediatrics and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Director, Microbiome and Metagenomics Center, UCSD

Professor Jack A. Gilbert earned his Ph.D. from Unilever and Nottingham University in 2002 and has been a prominent figure in microbial ecology. After postdoctoral training at Queens University, Canada, he worked as a senior scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the UK until 2010. In 2019, he joined the University of California San Diego as a Professor in Pediatrics and at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. There, he also serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for Marine Science and Director of the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center. Dr. Gilbert co-founded the American Gut Project, authored over 450 publications, and launched BiomeSense, Inc. He has led major initiatives, including the NIH’s $175M Nutrition for Precision Health program. His honors include the 2023 IFF Microbiome Science Prize and serving as president of Applied Microbiology International.

“I have long been fascinated by the potential to use probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, and diet to influence health. My interest in microbiome-related autism research is also personal since my oldest son was diagnosed at 5 years old. I view symbiotic interventions and therapeutics as useful treatment modalities to complement existing strategies employed by Autistic people to manage their quality of life.”

James Adams, PhD

President's Professor, Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, Arizona State University

James B. Adams, Ph.D., is the director of the Autism/Asperger's Research Program at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the benefits of nutrition and gut health for Autistic people to support improved wellbeing (vitamins/minerals, essential fatty acids, carnitine, digestive enzymes, microbiota transplant, probiotics). He has extensively researched prenatal supplements to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and infant health problems and has developed the first prenatal supplement tailored for each trimester. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed scientific articles, including over 60 related to autism. He is the president of the non-profit Autism Nutrition Research Center, president of Autism Diagnostics, president of Gut-Brain-Axis Therapeutics, and chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Neurological Health Foundation.

“I am motivated to participate in the Bened Lab research program due to my interest in using research to understand how to overcome the gut microbiome challenges faced by many Autistic children and adults.”

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, PhD

Director, Biodesign Center for Health through Microbiomes, Arizona State University

Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown is the director of the Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes and a professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment at Arizona State University. She earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Georgia Tech. She was awarded an NSF CAREER award, was selected Fulton Engineering Exemplar Faculty, and in 2020, she was awarded Arizona Researcher of the year by AZBio. Dr. Brown has been recognized as a highly cited researcher in her field by Web of Science in 2020, 2021, and 2023. She is a pioneer in research on the gut microbiome and autism. She has authored 9 patents and more than 130 peer-reviewed publications. She is a co-owner and founder of two start-up companies. She specializes in human intestinal microbial ecology and its relationship to metabolism and autism.

“I’ve been doing research on autism and the microbiome for more than 12 years. I’m excited about the possibility of helping and improving quality of life for Autistic people by improving the microbiome.”

James Morton, PhD

CEO of Gutz Analytics

James Morton, Ph.D., is the founder of Gutz Analytics, an AI company specializing in the analysis of microbiome data. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, San Diego, and four bachelor’s degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, engineering physics, and mathematics and statistics from Miami University. Dr. Morton has published, written, and spoken on how the gut microbiome modulates brain development extensively. He recently co-published a meta-analysis of ASD and the microbiome. He served as an investigator at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and as an Associate Research Scientist and Research Fellow at the Flatiron Institute of the Simons Foundation.

“I'm working with Bened and Jack Gilbert to brainstorm the optimal clinical trial design to help us better understand the link between the gut microbiome and autism. I have a personal connection to autism -- two of my adult cousins are Autistic, and I am very familiar with the challenges that parents and caretakers face when providing adequate support for their children and themselves. As a neurodivergent individual, I can personally attest to some of these challenges myself.”

Samantha (Sam) Streuli, PhD

Research Consultant

Samantha (Sam) Streuli, Ph.D. is a researcher, evaluator, and writer. Sam completed their PhD in medical anthropology at UC San Diego. There, they designed a vaccine education in collaboration with local organizations, healthcare providers, and refugees. After their Ph.D., Sam received a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to train at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health at UCSD. As a postdoc, Sam examined the impact of COVID-19 on refugees, disabled people, and people who use drugs in San Diego.

As a strong advocate for including marginalized communities in technology and public health program development, Sam has also worked as a community health specialist and research consultant for various organizations. Sam is a 2023-2024 Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project and AcademyHealth, speaking on advancing health equity and justice.

“As a neurodivergent and disabled researcher, I am passionate about including disabled and neurodivergent people as co-researchers. Given the harms that have come from our historical exclusion, health equity and justice can only be achieved if we are meaningfully involved in research about us. I am excited to be a part of applied research that has the potential to improve our quality of life and to center the needs of our community members who experience multiple forms of marginalization (such as racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism).”