We are alive during one of the most exciting times in human history. Just a decade ago, the human body was believed to be largely sterile. Since that time, new molecular tools have allowed scientists to detect vast communities of microbes in/on our gut, body surfaces, tissues and blood. In any given person, these microbes – bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, and fungi among others – collectively number in the billions. Their gene expression, and the proteins + metabolites they produce influence nearly every aspect of human metabolism.
Taken together, these microbial ecosystems comprise what is referred to as the human microbiome. Numerous studies have explored the gut microbiome, an area populated by trillions of microbes. However, microbiome populations have additionally been shown to exist in nearly every body tissue and fluid. These areas include the blood, the liver, the appendix, the bladder, the lungs and other areas traditionally believed to be impervious to microbial colonization. A Brain Microbiome Project is even currently underway at Harvard University.
It follows that the microbiome impacts nearly all facets of human health – indeed a growing number of studies show that microbiome composition shifts away from a state of balance in a variety of chronic inflammatory conditions. These include autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions, and cancers, where studies of these imbalances offer novel insight into root cause and disease progression. In addition, studies that better shed light on how the microbiome persists are deepening our understanding of how the immune system functions and develops.
On this site I will explore some of the latest research on the microbiome and related topics. I have published several journal articles and book chapters on the microbiome and inflammatory disease, and will sometimes show how these new studies impact the hypotheses I have advanced. For more on my own research, please visit the “basic concepts” section of this website.
Occasionally I will touch on the challenges that face the scientific communities that perform many of these amazing studies. I am particularly interested in exploring translational discoveries that allow insights about the microbiome to improve therapies for patients.
I have a PhD in microbiology but am not a medical doctor. So unfortunately I cannot answer any questions about patient care or treatment. However, I welcome any comments about the ideas I put forth and am very open to constructive criticism.