Dynamics of the Human Microbiota-Les Dethlefsen, PhD-04/07/2015 - 8:30am

Event Information
Event Topic: 
Dynamics of the Human Microbiota
Event Date: 
04/07/2015 - 8:30am
Event Location: 
Sunnyvale City Council Chambers, 456 West Olive Ave., Sunnyvale, CA
Speaker Information
Event Speaker: 
Les Dethlefsen, PhD
Event Speaker Company: 
Relman Lab, Stanford University
Event Speaker Bio: 

After an undergraduate double major in physics and molecular biology, Dr. Dethlefsen took a number of years away from science before starting a graduate program in 1996 at Michigan State University. Officially, he earned a Ph.D. in both Microbiology and Ecology/Evolutionary Biology, but his intellectual home on campus was really the inter-disciplinary Center for Microbial Ecology, with Tom Schmidt as his mentor. During the annual retreats held by the CME, Dr. Dethlefsen kept promoting the potential of what he called 'medical ecology', although he wasn't planning to go that direction. However, a couple of possible funding sources for his intended postdoc in marine microbiology didn't pan out, and about the same time David Relman got ahold of Dr. Schmidt to see if he had anyone who could join his lab to provide expertise in 16S rRNA-based surveys of microbial communities. Dr. Dethlefsen joined the Relman lab in 2004, and never left. His work in the Relman lab has focused on the temporal dynamics of the gut microbiota.

Event Details
Event Details: 

There's something like 100 trillion microbial cells, of thousands of different types, living in and on a typical person, with about 90% of the cells residing in the large intestine. Even among biomedical scientists and clinicians, the significance of that last sentence wasn't widely appreciated until recently. In the last 5 years, however, attention to the human microbiota has simply exploded, both among scientists and in the general public. Why? A growing realization that our native microbes play a huge role (or many huge roles) both in keeping us healthy and in making us sick.

A new, NIH-funded study is starting up in the Relman lab to address questions about the temporal dynamics of the gut microbiota. The lab is recruiting healthy adult participants to join the study right now. One of the benefits of the study is that they can tell you what is learned about your own personal gut microbiota. Les Dethlefsen's talk will briefly introduce this study, but mostly it will provide examples and explanations of some striking recent research findings about the interactions between the gut microbiota and health. And hopefully stimulate lots of questions and discussion!