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Microbiome symposium explores communities inside us

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Quinn Eastman

The human microbiome is thought to influence the immune system, metabolism and mental health. Researchers interested in the microbiome will hold Emory’s first symposium devoted to the topic this week. 

While they are much smaller than our own cells, bacteria and other microbes in our bodies outnumber human cells by an estimate of ten to one.

The complexity of the diverse microbial communities that live within the human body is being revealed by an explosion of research interest, facilitated by next-generation sequencing technology.

The human microbiome is thought to influence not only digestive health, but also metabolic and autoimmune diseases and possibly psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Beyond the human body, the microbiome is thought to be so fundamental to health and ecology that an international consortium of scientists has recently called for a global microbiome initiative

Researchers interested in the human microbiome will hold Emory’s first symposium devoted to the topic this week. The conference will kick off at 4 pm Thursday at Rollins Auditorium at Rollins School of Public Health, and will move to the Emory Conference Center Friday for more talks, lunch and a poster session in the afternoon.

“This is an exciting time in microbiome research, and we are thrilled to showcase microbiome research at Emory,"says conference organizer Jennifer Mulle, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health. "We’ve also lined up leaders and luminaries from other institutions. It’s going to be a great day of science.”

Outside speakers are coming from UCLA, CDC, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth University, Georgia Tech and Stanford.
Specialized topics to be covered include: genomic analysis and other services available through Emory's Integrated Core Facilities, a new Emory gnotobiotic and germ-free animal facility, oral, vaginal and gut microbiomes in relation to reproductive health, and fecal transplant.
A more detailed schedule is available here.

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