Me, My Microbiome, And I: The Vital Cells Of Existence

Nearly every health website offering eternal youth and beauty will sooner or later focus in on gut health and improving your microbiome, as if the microbiome were something that needed fixing. In fact, much of you isn’t you, and that’s okay. For every cell in your body, there’s another tiny single-celled creature that also calls your body home. Far from being germs we should eradicate, these ancient friends allow us to digest food, breathe air, and fight off disease. They were here long before us and will undoubtedly remain long after we’re gone. They are our microbiome, and after eons of cohabitation, we are finally getting to know one another better. Of course, we aren’t always the best of neighbors. Autoimmune diseases, allergies, depression, and Alzheimer’s may be diseases of an unhappy microbiome. Come join world-renowned microbiologists Martin Blaser, Jo Handelsman, Rob Knight, and David Relman as they zoom in on the micro world and zoom out on its macro influence.

MODERATOR: Emily Senay
PARTICIPANTS: Martin Blaser, Jo Handelsman, Rob Knight, David Relman

The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.

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This program is part of the Big Ideas Series which is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


24 thoughts on “Me, My Microbiome, And I: The Vital Cells Of Existence

  1. I think the first toilet that maps and looks for irregularities in our biome would be so beneficial to science and every individual. How nice would it be to hear from your own cammode what your diet is lacking. Maybe it suggests a sauna for 30 minutes tonight to inhibit reproduction of a new found virus. Wake up the next morning and see if you rid yourself of an oncoming cold!

  2. I wish every single educated (even slightly) human being watches this discussion. The panel and the moderator (and the topic!) are simply beautiful, elegant, graceful. Hope to see more of this! Thank you so much drs. Senay, Blaser, Handelsman, Knight and Relman! You rock!

  3. Depression is one of the most common disorders affecting millions of people worldwide. While its prevalence varies geographically, it does not particularly mean that the disorder is not common in these areas. The reason the condition appears to be more prevalent in countries such as the United States I s because it is a more publicized malady. Ample awareness has been made because the disorder has led to several suicides and it can easily be treated provided that it is diagnosed on time. If you are unaware about the specifics of the condition, this article should help you a bit.
    Depression can affect virtually anyone at any age and may not necessarily affect only people leading unhappy lives. In fact, several successful, prominent people have known to suffer from the disorder at some point in their life. Of course, the condition is usually triggered by negative situations such as a traumatic occurrence either emotionally or physically. It can also be caused by sudden epiphanies that inflict the mind negatively and result in a person developing the condition. The symptoms comprise of mental and physical aspects such as negativity, apathy, tiredness, and change in appetite as well as sleeping patterns. The condition can be treated via a number of ways from antidepressants to talk therapy.
    Despite being very treatable, the depression statistics are staggering. Statistics on depression suggests that It affects around 120 million people worldwide and causes over 850,000 deaths a year. These depression statistics make it quite clear that the disorder can be one of the most serious conditions that has plagued us. The depression statistics in 2013 has been quite constant but based on today’s lifestyle and the move towards a faster paced life; it is likely that these numbers could increase. Based on depression statistics in America, around 1 in 10 people suffer from the symptoms associated with the disorder at some point in their life. This is a scary statistic indeed.
    Another common demographic for the disorder is college students. College depression statistics tend to be high as substance abuse occurs frequently at this age. Additionally, college life can be quite stressful and depressing for some people. There are also other depression statistics that can be considered to help understand the disorder. One of this is the fact that it is more common in women.

  4. I like the subjects the world science festival produces but not the presentation. I believe a well scripted documentary supported with animated graphics a much clearer presentation than a discussion panel.

  5. Excellent discussion, thank you.

    There was one area which was not explored, nor mentioned which I believe will become critical as the technologies to assay an individual's microbiome are developed, or made available -i.e. is your microbiome profile private? For example, you sit down on some chair; is what you leave behind (no pun) still yours? Or can it be used in the same way as the DNA one might leave on a drinking glass or soda can? (Will this lead to products like privacy diapers?)

    My guess would be that the technology for such rapid assays are currently under development, and will likely be put to use by any number of groups in society that have a stake in knowing as much as possible about an individual. In the near future, peeing in a cup might not be enough for an employer, nor in determining your auto or life insurance premiums, etc.

    This is a remarkable and necessary science! And it will be interesting how this all plays out. Thanks again for sharing the talk.

  6. Kefir has changed my life. Not the store bought, you have to maintain your own living colony. I lost close to 100 pounds and no longer have the shits 4-5 days out of the week and rarely need my antidepressants any more and when I do need them it is only a fraction of what I used to need. Look into kefir on YT and on scholar dot google dot com.
    Have a GROOVY Day, tommyj

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