University of California San Diego

Rob Knight

Jury: Life Sciences

Rob Knight is the founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering at UC San Diego. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Microbiology. He was honored with the 2019 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for his microbiome research and received the 2017 Massry Prize, often considered a predictor of the Nobel. He is the author of “Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes” (Simon & Schuster, 2015), coauthor of “Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), and written over 700 scientific articles. He spoke at TED in 2014 which is viewed over 2 million times. His lab has produced many of the software tools and laboratory techniques that enabled high-throughput microbiome science, including the QIIME pipeline (cited over 30,000 times, including QIIME 2) and UniFrac (cited over 10,000 times including its web interface). He is co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, the American GutProject, and the company Biota, Inc., which uses DNA from microbes in the subsurface to guide oilfield decisions. His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra, and made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world.