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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Sean Gibbons, PhD, is a distinguished investigator at the Washington Research Foundation and assistant professor at the Institute for Systems Biology.

He joins the show today to discuss the work being done in his lab. Tune in to learn the following:

  • How species diversity in the human gut microbiome may lend itself to health and disease states of the host, patterns seen at the high and low ends of diversity, and how to qualify the meaning of “diversity”
  • What findings Gibbons’ work has shown, including the importance and implications of the intimate connection between the metabolites produced in the gut and the metabolites circulating in the bloodstream
  • What patterns and characteristics are found in the microbiome during aging, and how analysis in this regard could provide predictive information about mortality

Gibbons has a background and long-standing interest in the ecology, microbiology, and evolutionary biology of microbial communities, and for the past several years, he’s been studying the human body through this lens.

His lab is focused on trying to understand the variation in the ecology and evolutionary dynamics of the microbial communities that drive changes in the molecular phenotypes of host organisms. Gibbons and his team are accomplishing this by looking at the microbiome of healthy and sick individuals, as well as detailed molecular phenotypic data on the metabolome, proteome, human genome sequence, and dietary and lifestyle measurements.

The ultimate goal is to understand what amount of variation in the ecology of microbial communities in the human body is coherent with variation in disease states. By doing this, the hope is to determine where the microbiome is involved in the etiology of disease.

Gibbons discusses a number of fascinating topics, including the significance of low versus high species diversity in the gut microbiome, how bacteria in the gut compete and interact with one another, patterns found in the relationship between ageing and the gut microbiome, how information about the structure of someone’s microbiome can be obtained by analyzing the metabolites in a sample of their blood, why a reliance on mouse models in the study of the human microbiome is not ideal, how Gibbons’ team is trying to develop methods that will bring research findings closer to showing causality as opposed to just correlation, the importance of longitudinal data and interventional studies for moving the microbiome into clinical medicine, and so much more.

Check out to learn more.


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