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Nature of Things 2013: June Round Lecture - Redefining Human: How Microbes Influence Who We Are

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Published on Apr 18, 2013

Lecture w/ Intro and Discussion

Humans are home to vast consortium of bacteria that outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten. Recent research shows that the microorganisms living on and in our bodies are essential to immune system development and protecting us from a vast array of diseases. Moreover, these bacteria have likely influenced the evolution of the human species in unexplored and unappreciated ways. Given the importance of bacteria to our health and development, we might begin to redefine ourselves to include the microscopic creatures that inhabit our bodies.

June Round discusses what these organisms are and where they live on your body, what developmental and disease processes they influence, and how scientists are trying to utilize these organisms to treat various ailments. Dr. Round is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Division of Microbiology and Immunology, at the University of Utah. Her lab studies how symbiotic bacteria shape the development and responses of the mammalian immune system. Using germ-free mice raised in a completely sterile environment, she is examining the mechanisms by which a single microorganism prominent in the human microbiome communicates with its host and protects it from disease. Her work on this communication pathway was published in Science in May 2011.

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