Thursday, May 9, 2019
$5 Suggested Donation
The Gut Microbiome and Human Health: Keeping Up with an Ever-Changing Field
With Hannah Tavalire, MS, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon
May 9, 2019 | 6:30-8:30PM; Doors open @ 5PM | $5 Suggested Donation
The human microbiome includes all of the microscopic organisms living in and on the body. This can include trillions of bacteria, fungi, and archaea- leading to high variation among individual humans- even in healthy populations. Recent research has correlated imbalances in these microbes to the progression of a multitude of human diseases- from obesity to heart disease, and even mental health challenges. Experiments in animals come closer to determining mechanisms for disease-causing interactions between the microbiome and its host, but definitive evidence for the role of the microbiome in human health is practically and ethically challenging to obtain. The gut microbiome has the potential to play an important role as a target for intervention in personalized medicine moving forward, but human trials for proposed therapies are just beginning. Popular media is covering scientific advances in microbiome research at an unprecedented rate- inundating us with information that may or may not be overstated. Furthermore, commercial companies are popping up, promising personalized diet and lifestyle advice gleaned from a single stool sample. We are only just beginning to understand the complex nature of interactions among microbes and their hosts leading to health or disease. So what does the research really say?
In this talk, research scientist Hannah Tavalire will discuss the evidence surrounding the role of the gut microbiome in human health and the challenges facing researchers- and consumers of information- in a field that is still largely in its infancy. Dr. Tavalire will also discuss her current research focused on determining how much genetics versus environment (nature versus nurture) drives the composition of the gut microbiome in childhood in a human adoption study.
Hannah started her career as a researcher in a toxicology lab as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. She then went on to complete a Master’s degree working on an invasive species project, and later completed a PhD in Integrative Biology at Oregon State University, where she studied wildlife disease. Hannah transitioned into human research as a postdoctoral scholar at UO in 2017, focusing on genetic and environmental drivers of microbiome composition and the role of stress and immune function in shaping the microbiome in humans and fish.
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