James Versalovic

James Versalovic, MD, PhD

Full Affiliate Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist


After completion of his postdoctoral training, Dr. Versalovic remained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA as a Research Scientist in the Division of Comparative Medicine. During that time, he also held an appointment as an Assistant Professor of Pathology at the Harvard Medical School. In 2001, he joined the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas as an Assistant Professor in both the Department of Pathology and Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology. He also received additional appointments there as an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics in 2005, and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in 2008. All of these appointments were promoted to full professorships in 2009. Dr. Versalovic also co-directs the Medical Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.) Training Program and the Functional Genomics and Proteomics Core at the NIH-funded Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center, both at Baylor. His research accomplishments have been impressive; he has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on 7 NIH grants, 4 of which are ongoing. Dr. Versalovic has published extensively in the medical literature and has been an associate editor for the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Gut Microbes.

Description of Research

Dr. Versalovic’s research is in the area of bacterial pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions, especially as they relate to diseases and disorders of the intestinal microbiome. With funding from the NIH and Department of Defense, he has conducted numerous studies to identify and develop probiotics for the treatment of inflammatory disorders and diseases such as Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and infections of the gut from pathogenic bacteria. Using whole genomic and comparative proteomic approaches, he has identified various antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory factors for Lactobacillus reuteri, as well as immunomodulatory factors from novel human-derived strains of Lactobacillus saerimneri and ruminis. His current studies also include bench and preclinical research with probiotic Lactobacillus to further elucidate the properties of its biofilms and identify potential uses in disease management and/or prevention.

Areas Of Expertise

Proteomics Bacterial pathogenesis Host-pathogen interactions Microbiome Genomics Biofilms
Education & Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine
PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Serum 3-phenyllactic acid level is reduced in benign multiple sclerosis and is associated with effector B cell ratios
Oezguen, N, Yilmaz, V, Horvath, TD, Akbayir, E, Haidacher, SJ, Hoch, KM, Thapa, S, Palacio, J, Türkoglu, R, Kürtüncü, M, Engevik, MA, Versalovic, J, Haag, AM & Tüzün, E 2022, , Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, vol. 68, 104239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2022.104239

Bacteroides ovatus colonization influences the abundance of intestinal short chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters
Horvath, TD, Ihekweazu, FD, Haidacher, SJ, Ruan, W, Engevik, KA, Fultz, R, Hoch, KM, Luna, RA, Oezguen, N, Spinler, JK, Haag, AM, Versalovic, J & Engevik, MA 2022, , iScience, vol. 25, no. 5, 104158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.104158

Comparison of Whole Genome Sequencing and Repetitive Element PCR for Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa Strain Typing
Spinler, JK, Raza, S, Thapa, S, Venkatachalam, A, Scott, T, Runge, JK, Dunn, J, Versalovic, J & Luna, RA 2022, , Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 158-166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmoldx.2021.10.004

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Commonly Failed in Children with Co-Morbidities
Kellermayer, R, Wu, Q, Nagy-Szakal, D, Queliza, K, Ihekweazu, FD, Bocchini, CE, Magee, AR, Oezguen, N, Spinler, JK, Hollister, EB, Shulman, RJ, Versalovic, J, Luna, RA & Savidge, TC 2022, , Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, vol. 74, no. 2, pp. 227-235. https://doi.org/10.1097/MPG.0000000000003336

Loss of H2R Signaling Disrupts Neutrophil Homeostasis and Promotes Inflammation-Associated Colonic Tumorigenesis in Mice
Shi, Z, Mori-Akiyama, Y, Du, W, Fultz, R, Zhao, Y, Ruan, W, Venable, S, Engevik, MA & Versalovic, J 2022, , CMGH, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 717-737. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2021.11.003

Peppermint oil effects on the gut microbiome in children with functional abdominal pain
Thapa, S, Luna, RA, Chumpitazi, BP, Oezguen, N, Abdel-Rahman, SM, Garg, U, Musaad, S, Versalovic, J, Kearns, GL & Shulman, RJ 2022, , Clinical and Translational Science, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 1036-1049. https://doi.org/10.1111/cts.13224

SARSCoV-2 serostatus amongst vaccinated employees at a pediatric hospital system
Devaraj, S, Poventud-Fuentes, I, Girotto, M, Monroe, J, Boom, J, Delclos, G & Versalovic, J 2022, , Practical Laboratory Medicine, vol. 28, e00261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plabm.2021.e00261

Functional response to a microbial synbiotic in the gastrointestinal system of children: a randomized clinical trial
Tierney, BT, Versalovic, J, Fasano, A, Petrosino, JF, Chumpitazi, BP, Mayer, EA, Boetes, J, Smits, G, Parkar, SG, Voreades, N, Kartal, E, Al-Ghalith, GA, Pane, M, Bron, PA, Reid, G, Dhir, R & Mason, CE 2022, , Pediatric Research. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-022-02289-0

The metabolic profile of Bifidobacterium dentium reflects its status as a human gut commensal
Engevik, MA, Danhof, HA, Hall, A, Engevik, KA, Horvath, TD, Haidacher, SJ, Hoch, KM, Endres, BT, Bajaj, M, Garey, KW, Britton, RA, Spinler, JK, Haag, AM & Versalovic, J 2021, , BMC Microbiology, vol. 21, no. 1, 154. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-021-02166-6

Screening pediatric surgical patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
Dibbs, RP, Ferry, AM, Mehl, SC, Ferguson, SM, Versalovic, J, Dunn, JJ, Enochs, J, Monson, LA & Hollier, LH 2021, , Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 43-48. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.JAA.0000791484.37318.d3

Neurotransmitter profiles are altered in the gut and brain of mice mono-associated with Bifidobacterium dentium
Luck, B, Horvath, TD, Engevik, KA, Ruan, W, Haidacher, SJ, Hoch, KM, Oezguen, N, Spinler, JK, Haag, AM, Versalovic, J & Engevik, MA 2021, , Biomolecules, vol. 11, no. 8, 1091. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11081091

Bacteroides ovatus Promotes IL-22 Production and Reduces Trinitrobenzene Sulfonic Acid–Driven Colonic Inflammation
Ihekweazu, FD, Engevik, MA, Ruan, W, Shi, Z, Fultz, R, Engevik, KA, Chang-Graham, AL, Freeborn, J, Park, ES, Venable, S, Horvath, TD, Haidacher, SJ, Haag, AM, Goodwin, A, Schady, DA, Hyser, JM, Spinler, JK, Liu, Y & Versalovic, J 2021, , American Journal of Pathology, vol. 191, no. 4, pp. 704-719. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2021.01.009

Coronavirus Disease 2019 in children cared for at texas children's hospital: Initial clinical characteristics and outcomes
Foster, CE, Moulton, EA, Munoz, FM, Hulten, KG, Versalovic, J, Dunn, J, Revell, P, Koy, TH, Arrington, AS, Marquez, L & Campbell, J 2021, , Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 373-377. https://doi.org/10.1093/JPIDS/PIAA072

Human-Derived Bifidobacterium dentium Modulates the Mammalian Serotonergic System and Gut–Brain Axis
Engevik, MA, Luck, B, Visuthranukul, C, Ihekweazu, FD, Engevik, AC, Shi, Z, Danhof, HA, Chang-Graham, AL, Hall, A, Endres, BT, Haidacher, SJ, Horvath, TD, Haag, AM, Devaraj, S, Garey, KW, Britton, RA, Hyser, JM, Shroyer, NF & Versalovic, J 2021, , CMGH, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 221-248. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2020.08.002

Immunomodulation of dendritic cells by Lactobacillus reuteri surface components and metabolites
Engevik, MA, Ruan, W, Esparza, M, Fultz, R, Shi, Z, Engevik, KA, Engevik, AC, Ihekweazu, FD, Visuthranukul, C, Venable, S, Schady, DA & Versalovic, J 2021, , Physiological Reports, vol. 9, no. 2, e14719. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14719

Fusobacterium nucleatum Adheres to Clostridioides difficile via the RadD Adhesin to Enhance Biofilm Formation in Intestinal Mucus
Engevik, MA, Danhof, HA, Auchtung, J, Endres, BT, Ruan, W, Bassères, E, Engevik, AC, Wu, Q, Nicholson, M, Luna, RA, Garey, KW, Crawford, SE, Estes, MK, Lux, R, Yacyshyn, MB, Yacyshyn, B, Savidge, T, Britton, RA & Versalovic, J 2021, , Gastroenterology, vol. 160, no. 4, pp. 1301-1314.e8. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.11.034

Fusobacterium nucleatum secretes outer membrane vesicles and promotes intestinal inflammation
Engevik, MA, Danhof, HA, Ruan, W, Engevik, AC, Chang-Graham, AL, Engevik, KA, Shi, Z, Zhao, Y, Brand, CK, Krystofiak, ES, Venable, S, Liu, X, Hirschi, KD, Hyser, JM, Spinler, JK, Britton, RA & Versalovic, J 2021, , mBio, vol. 12, no. 2, e02706-20, pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02706-20

Bifidobacterium dentium-derived y-glutamylcysteine suppresses ER-mediated goblet cell stress and reduces TNBS-driven colonic inflammation
Engevik, MA, Herrmann, B, Ruan, W, Engevik, AC, Engevik, KA, Ihekweazu, F, Shi, Z, Luck, B, Chang-Graham, AL, Esparza, M, Venable, S, Horvath, TD, Haidacher, SJ, Hoch, KM, Haag, AM, Schady, DA, Hyser, JM, Spinler, JK & Versalovic, J 2021, , Gut Microbes, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.1902717

Maternal Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation shifts the intestinal microbiome in mice and provides protection from experimental colitis in female offspring
Krishna, M, Engevik, M, Queliza, K, Britto, S, Shah, R, Ruan, W, Wang, H, Versalovic, J & Kellermayer, R 2022, , FASEB BioAdvances, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 109-120. https://doi.org/10.1096/fba.2021-00078

Limosilactobacillus reuteri ATCC 6475 metabolites upregulate the serotonin transporter in the intestinal epithelium
Engevik, M, Ruan, W, Visuthranukul, C, Shi, Z, Engevik, KA, Engevik, AC, Fultz, R, Schady, DA, Spinler, JK & Versalovic, J 2021, , Beneficial Microbes, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 583-599. https://doi.org/10.3920/BM2020.0216