On Friday April 8, 2016, MHICN attended the Inaugural MIT-Harvard Symposium on Health and Ventures in the Microbiome. The event featured two keynote addresses, one on the lung microbiome and one on gut-brain interactions in health and disease, several 10 minute “flash talks” on a variety of topics related to the microbiome, and an extensive poster session including 18 posters. Most of our work on the microbiome focuses on the gut microbiome, so we were excited to learn about the role of the microbiome throughout the body, including in the lungs, genitals, and cancerous tumors, among others.
The mechanisms of the microbiome’s role in human health remains largely unknown, but the possibilities are exciting, especially when it comes to the connection between our brains and the resident microbes in our intestine. The closing keynote speaker, Elaine Hsaio, PhD, explained that the brain communicates bi-directionally with gut microbes and that the gut microbes regulate the development and function of the nervous system. The findings she shared at the conference specifically discussed the interaction of gut microbes and serotonin and offered a glimpse at the future of tractable strategies for treating complex nervous system disorders.
Much of the MHICN Gut Check and Digestive Health Therapeutic Platform delve into these issues as well. We were excited to meet a member of a lab at MIT who is working on a personalized medicine platform to predict flare-ups of ulcerative colitis, as well as a clinician from Massachusetts General Hospital who is working toward “designer microbes” to improve human health. To learn more about the work of MHICN in the microbiome, log in and visit the Gut Check page. There are a variety of presentations, videos, and podcasts on microbiome topics such as probiotics, prebiotics, and clinical application of strategies for improved gut health.