Abstract: Series 103, Lecture 7

The Harvey Lectures Series 103 (2007—2008)

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Lecture #7: Thursday, May 15, 2008 — Time and Location

The Human Microbiome Project: Exploring the Microbial Side of Ourselves

Jeffrey I Gordon, MD

Jeffrey I Gordon, MD

Dr Robert J Glaser Distinguished University Professor
Director, Center for Genome Sciences

Washington University School of Medicine

St Louis, Missouri

Dr Gordon's Website

Our genetic landscape is a summation of the genes embedded in our human genome and the genomes of our microbial partners (the microbiome). Our metabolic features are an amalgamation of human and microbial traits. Therefore, understanding of the range of human genetic and physiologic diversity means that we must characterize our microbiome, as well as the factors that influence the assembly, stability, functions and variations in our microbiota. The results should provide an additional perspective about contemporary human biology, as we assess how our lifestyles, cultural and societal norms, socioeconomic status, and changing biosphere are influencing our ‘micro’-evolution, and thus our health. Therefore, members of my lab are exploring the following questions: What are the genomic and metabolic foundations of our mutually beneficial relationships with gut microbes? How do we acquire our microbiota? How stable is it? Do humans share an identifiable core ‘microbiome’? How do variations in the microbiome correlate with and contribute to health and disease? How can we manipulate our gut microbial communities to optimize their performance in the context of an individual, or a population?