How gut microbes affect our wellbeing

Gut health is closely related to our microbiota, a unique consortium of trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies. Gut bacteria produce compounds that are absorbed into our blood, providing nourishment and affecting our health. Our gut is composed of many divergent microhabitats in which physical properties such as salt concentration, acidity, and temperature are tightly regulated by human-microbe interactions. During intestinal flu, colon cancers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or even through the consumption of specific foods or medicines, these properties can be dramatically affected, altering the microbiota and their abilities, which affects disease progress and treatment. Despite such importance of the gut environment, we know little about its effects on the gut microbiota and on disease progression. Our laboratory uses a combination of cutting-edge experimental and computational methods to study the connection between the gut microbiota, gut microenvironment, and immunity. We identify characteristics of the gut environment and microbiota that can help clinicians predict and ameliorate disease state. In our research analyze isolated bacteria and study how they respond to, as well as modify, their environment with the eventual goal of restoring a healthy gut environment. Our goal is for our findings to not only further biological knowledge, but importantly lead to health benefits, by facilitating the development of methods to predict disease state and drug effectiveness, as well as therapies for diseases that affect millions of people in the world.

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