Kent Willis

Kent Willis
University of Alabama at Birmingham | UAB · Department of Pediatrics

MD FAAP
Neonatologist and Physician-Scientist

About

42
Publications
8,348
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
356
Citations
Citations since 2017
35 Research Items
308 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
Introduction
I endeavor to improve the health of infants through research on microbial influences on human development at the beginning of life.
Additional affiliations
June 2020 - present
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • I'm an assistant professor and neonatologist clinician-scientist at UAB working on microbial inputs on human development in the neonatal period. In particular the gut-lung axis and the mycobiome in BPD.
July 2019 - June 2020
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • Im an assistant professor and neonatologist clinician-scientist at UTHSC working on microbial inputs on human development in the neonatal period.
July 2016 - June 2019
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • Project 1: Genetic variation in RSV infection in Neonates. Project 2: The Role of Microbiota-alteration in the Development of Chronic Lung Injury in Neonates.
Education
July 2013 - July 2016
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
Field of study
  • Pediatric Medicine
July 2009 - May 2013
August 2005 - May 2009
Union University
Field of study
  • Chemistry

Publications

Publications (42)
Article
Fungal and bacterial commensal organisms play a complex role in the health of the human host. Expansion of commensal ecology after birth is a critical period in human immune development. However, the initial fungal colonization of the primordial gut remains undescribed. To investigate primordial fungal ecology, we performed amplicon sequencing and...
Article
During the newborn period, intestinal commensal bacteria influence pulmonary mucosal immunology via the gut-lung axis. Epidemiological studies have linked perinatal antibiotic exposure in human newborns to an increased risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, but if this effect is mediated by the gut-lung axis is unknown. To explore antibiotic disrupti...
Article
Full-text available
As an active interface between the host and their diet, the gut microbiota influences host metabolic adaptation; however, the contributions of fungi have been overlooked. Here, we investigate whether variations in gut mycobiome abundance and composition correlate with key features of host metabolism. We obtained animals from four commercial sources...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Gut microbiome dysbiosis is associated with lung disease through the gut-lung axis. Abundant proteobacteria increase MMP-9 and contribute to tissue proteolysis followed by neutrophil recruitment, lung tissue injury, and perpetuation of chronic lung disease. We sought to determine if a scientifically formulated probiotic and herbal suppl...
Article
Full-text available
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a common lung disease of premature infants. Hyperoxia exposure and microbial dysbiosis are contributors to BPD development. However, the mechanisms linking pulmonary microbial dysbiosis to worsening lung injury are unknown. Nuclear factor-erythroid factor 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Gut microbiome dysbiosis is associated with lung disease through the gut-lung axis. Abundant proteobacteria increase MMP-9 and contribute to tissue proteolysis followed by neutrophil recruitment, lung tissue injury, and perpetuation of chronic lung disease. We sought to determine if a scientifically formulated probiotic and herbal supple...
Preprint
Elevated levels of dietary fats in westernized diets, associated with increased risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, are increasingly consumed by children in the United States. Cooking practices such as high heat frying and increased use of oxidizable sources of fats have introduced high levels of lipid oxidation products (LOPs) into these d...
Article
Full-text available
Early progression of feeding could influence the development of the gut microbiome. We collected fecal samples from extremely preterm infants randomized to receive either early (feeding day 2) or delayed (feeding day 5) feeding progression. After study completion, we compared samples obtained at three different time points (week 1, week 2, and week...
Article
Chorioamnionitis or intrauterine inflammation is a frequent cause of preterm birth. Chorioamnionitis can affect almost every organ of the developing fetus. Multiple microbes have been implicated to cause chorioamnionitis, but “sterile” inflammation appears to be more common. Eradication of microorganisms has not been shown to prevent the morbidity...
Article
The recently recognized connection between the gut microbiota and pulmonary disease has been termed the gut-lung axis. However, broader connections link the gut and the lungs and these organ systems are tightly interrelated in both homeostasis and disease. This concept is often ignored in the compartmentalized treatment of pulmonary or gastrointest...
Article
A rapidly expanding new field of lung research has been produced by the emergence of culture-independent next-generation sequencing technologies. While pulmonary microbiome research lags behind the exploration of the microbiome in other organ systems, the field is maturing and has recently produced multiple exciting discoveries. In this Mini-Review...
Article
Full-text available
Dry eye affects millions of individuals. In experimental models, dry eye disease is associated with T helper cell 17-mediated inflammation of the ocular surface that may cause persistent damage to the corneal epithelium. However, the initiating and perpetuating factors associated with chronic inflammation of the ocular surface remain unclear. The o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objective: As an active interface between the host and their diet, the gut bacteriome influences host metabolic adaptation. However, the contribution of gut fungi to host metabolic outcomes remains unknown. Therefore, we aimed to determine if host metabolic response to westernized processed diet reflects gut fungal community composition. Design: We...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dry eye affects millions of individuals. In experimental models, dry eye disease is associated with T helper cell 17-mediated inflammation of the ocular surface that may cause persistent damage to the corneal epithelium. However, the initiating and perpetuating factors associated with chronic inflammation of the ocular surface remain unclear. The o...
Article
Bile acid receptors regulate the metabolic and immune functions of circulating enterohepatic bile acids. This process is disrupted by administration of parenteral nutrition (PN), which may induce progressive hepatic injury for unclear reasons, especially in the newborn, leading to PN-associated liver disease. To explore the role of bile acid signal...
Preprint
Fungal and bacterial commensal organisms play a complex role in the health of the human host. Expansion of commensal ecology after birth is a critical period in human immune development. However, the initial fungal colonization of the primordial gut remains undescribed. To investigate primordial fungal ecology, we performed amplicon sequencing and...
Article
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is prevalent in premature newborns and has been linked to the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a serious pulmonary complication of premature birth. Although a causal relationship has not been proven, the link is greatest among infants born at lower gestational age who are treated with mechanical ventil...
Poster
Full-text available
PAS Young Investigator Award winning poster. Basic science research poster looking at the effects of perinatal antibiotic exposure on infant metabolism using predictive metagenomics. 1. The Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting 2018, May 6, Toronto, Canada. 2. Le Bonhuer Children's Hospital Research Day 2018, March 28, Memphis, Tennessee.
Poster
Full-text available
Maternal perinatal antibiotic exposure enhances weight gain in their offspring. This may result from changes in the fungal-microbial axis in the neonatal gut
Article
Full-text available
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is an increasingly common obstetrical problem. Due to the global escalation in the prevalence of obesity, as many as 15 % of pregnant women may soon be classified as having GDM. While often not diagnosed until late gestation, GDM is now recognized as a disorder of glucose and lipid metabolism, systemic inflammati...
Chapter
Keywords: bariatric surgery maternal obesity pregnancy neonatal outcome perinatal outcome pregnancy outcome The global obesity epidemic is changing the face of maternalefetal medicine. One in five women is obese at time of conception, and increasing numbers of parturients have undergone bariatric surgery. Recent publication of large, population-bas...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract The obesity epidemic is a problem of global importance with a profound impact on maternal-fetal health. Currently, 1 in 5 women, worldwide, are obese at time of conception. Normalizing pregravid weight may significantly reduce obstetrical complications and alter the long-term weight status of mother and child. Bariatric surgery is the most...
Article
Full-text available
The dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity in women of reproductive age has resulted in approximately 1 in 5 women being obese when they conceive. Bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective long-term weight loss strategy in obese women in this age group. Clinicians should be aware of the effects of bariatric surgery on fertil...
Chapter
Obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation. A consistent observation in this pathology includes the accumulation of immune cells within the hypertrophic adipose tissue, thus establishing a relatively new field in medical research, adipoimmunology. An overview of key players in inflammation and immunology, with focus on those that are...

Questions

Questions (3)
Question
Considering the use of CD-1 mice due to high breeding rate for a hyperoxic model of BPD.
Question
My laboratory group uses BXD mice to study how environmental exposure leads to neonatal disease. I would like to build on our previous experience studying effects on the microbiome in these mice and use it to look at the development of chronic lung disease
Question
Does anyone know a good mouse model of neonatal exposure to maternal obesity?

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Aim 1: Develop a mouse model to study the effect of an altered microbiota on the development of BPD. Aim 2: Perform a clinical trial studying the effects of the microbiota on the development of inflammatory conditions in neonates.