One of the most exciting scientific advances in recent years has been the realization that commensal microorganisms (our microbiome) play key roles in our physiology, including protection against infection, in drug metabolism, vitamin synthesis, nutrition, as well as in response to disease. A surprising finding is that disruption of the homeostasis of the microbiota, known as ‘dysbiosis,’ may be as vital as host genetics in the development of a range of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This suggests that it may be possible to monitor, prevent, or even cure human disease through regulating the human microbiota. Recent advances in culture-independent microbiome DNA sequencing methods, even in just the last few years, have resulted in an unprecedented growth in our understanding of this vital and dynamic organ. The medical community has put a large emphasis in the eradication of microbial life, and in many cases for good reason. But, perhaps, we should instead consider how to preserve or reestablish a ‘health-promoting’ microbiome during and after critical illness through targeted interventions, such as probiotics, prebiotics, fecal transplants, and or even synthetic ‘stool pills’ to improve outcome in many illnesses This session will introduce the new, exciting, and "sexy" field of the microbiome and how it relates to making up who we are as humans in health and disease.
Understand the key role of the microbiome in who we are as humans in health and disease and how the microbiome can be modified to improve health and prevent illness.
Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery,
Duke University School of Medicine
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