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Education:

BS: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute                                                                    
MD: University of Massachusetts Medical School                                                
Residency Training: Alpert Medical School of Brown University                                
PhD: University of Massachusetts Medical School Millennium PhD Program

Appointments:

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine                                                   
Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems 
Associate Clinical Director of the Center for Microbiome Research

Research Overview:

Dr. Haran is an NIH funded investigator whose research background is anchored with a focus on investigations into the link between gut microbiome composition and older adult health outcomes. Specifically, his research interests span 2 domains that include the “microbiota-gut-brain” axis and drug resistant pathogens.

Within the microbiota-gut-brain axis, Dr. Haran’s current NIH funding focuses on how dysbiosis in the intestinal microbiome of elders with Alzheimer’s disease associates with immune system dysregulation and cognitive impairment. He is currently enrolling and following older adults, collecting longitudinal cognitive, immune system functioning, and microbiome data. Through funding from the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging, we have built a large cohort of community-dwelling and nursing home older adults with and without Alzheimer’s disease that we are following for cognitive changes. We run a research clinic here at UMass Chan Medical School for older adults with cognitive issues and are leveraging data from these patients to design and test novel microbiome therapies to improve cognition and prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.

Under the microbiota-gut-brain axis domain, Dr. Haran also runs investigations into the relationship between pro-inflammatory type oral microbiome composition and the risk of developing long-COVID. Finally, leveraging patients he treats in the ED from minor accidents, Dr. Haran studies the relationship between the gut microbiome composition and development of post-traumatic neurological disorders.

Dr. Haran’s focus on drug resistant pathogens includes: 1) stemming the spread of Clostridium difficile infection and colonization among nursing home residents and hospitalized elders; 2) preventing the transmission of multi-drug resistant organisms within the hospital setting; and 3) implementing novel treatment guidelines to reduce unnecessary antibiotic usage.

Dr. Haran’s current research is supported by internal grant funding through UMMS and NIA which focuses on the complex interplay between medication use and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) colonization/infection in both community-dwelling elders and those residing in nursing homes. We have built a large research network of nursing home facilities within central Massachusetts where we collect longitudinal samples and monitor for colonization with C. difficile and other drug resistant organisms. This investigates both: 1) the nursing home microbiome and its association with these organisms; and 2) clinical and nutritional factors that influence the microbiome. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify microbiome changes that occur as an elder transitions to nursing home care which leads to a bacterial carrier state. This will lay the foundation for targeted interventions to prevent the spread of C. difficile and other drug resistant organisms in the elderly nursing home community.Additionally, as a member of the hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Taskforce, Dr. Haran has worked with other committee members to implement novel antimicrobial treatment algorithms to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics within the Emergency Department and the hospital wards. Our current project had dramatically reduced Vancomycin use as a treatment for non-purulent skin infections and helped the hospital to align with the IDSA treatment guidelines for skin and soft tissue infections.

Finally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Haran has been working with the CDC in several surveillance projects that aim to understand the risk healthcare workers have to contracting COVID-19 from the workplace and the benefits of vaccination in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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