By Jose Franco
Candice Price, Ph.D.
Assistant Adjunct Professor Dr. Candice Price works in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Price received her Ph.D. in Endocrinology from UC Berkeley and her B.A. in English with a Minor in Biology from Wellesley College.
Beginning of microbiome research
Price became interested in microbiome research for the first time while at her postdoctoral position in the Endocrinology Department at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her lab was collaborating with Dr. Michael Snyder, a geneticist investigating how the microbiome plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Price’s responsibilities in the microbiome study included participant screening and sample collection (stool, saliva, ear and nose swabs). “At the time, I thought, ‘Wow the microbiome is everywhere and may be an important piece to understanding type 2 diabetes development,’” she noted. This experience eventually inspired her transition into the area of microbiome research.
After the conclusion of her postdoctoral work at Stanford Medicine, Price decided to focus more on the role of nutrition in diabetes prevention among minority populations. She later joined Drs. Peter Havel and Kimber Stanhope as a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Her project focused on the microbiome to investigate the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction. Once she was promoted to a faculty position, Dr. Price was able to procure more funding to support her studies. These studies include research on the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in cardiovascular disease with a focus on diverse populations, specifically African-American women.
Following this work Price was invited to be an investigator for the National Growth and Health Study through the UC Berkeley study site where she was tasked with looking at the microbiome of the participants. This project is a 10-year longitudinal study comparing the health outcomes of African-American women to Caucasian women, their mothers, and their children. Because the initial participants started out as young girls and matured into women, researchers were able to collect data across a range of developmental stages. Although the analysis of this project is still ongoing, preliminary results show differences between the microbiome-related health outcomes of the two study groups.
Dr. Price was one of the several people who attended Professor Jonathan Eisen’s Microbiome AMA (Ask Me Anything) and found it very helpful. She recognizes the value and importance of interdisciplinary teams and consulting with other subject matter experts. “At the end of the day, you wouldn’t want to publish data and come up with a conclusion based off findings resulting from underlying sample contamination, an issue brought to my attention by leading microbiome experts” she said.
Among her other research interests, Dr. Price also expressed interest in how the vaginal microbiome plays a role in birth, specifically in relation to potential effects on the high premature birth rates experienced by African-American women. As she explains, “it may not be something I might actually do, but given the role the microbiome plays in various aspects of life, my curiosity has only grown further.”
Dr. Price is interested in clinical studies that focus on cardiometabolic diseases in minority populations. She is specifically looking at biomarkers, the effects of psychological stress, and differences in the microbiome based on ethnicity, stress, or physiological state.
Given Price’s focus on understanding cardiometabolic disease risk in African-American women, she understands that there is already a lack of knowledge in health risks within communities. “Most in their community have never heard of the microbiome and the role of gut health in our everyday lives” she noted. Being able to take what she has learned in her research and disseminate that into community education is her end goal. She would like to show others that there is more to preventative health than checking blood pressure.