The 2,419th Meeting of the Society

February 7, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

The World Microbiome Project and Integrated Microbiomics

Understanding Microbial Populations and How They Shape the World

Jack Gilbert

Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California at San Diego


About the Lecture

The human microbiome is quickly being recognized as a dynamic part of the human ecosystem, and research is starting to demonstrate that using ecological approaches to understand this ecosystem has profound benefits for patient wellness.

The immune system controls our interaction with the microbial world, and the microbial communities in our bodies are central to modulating the immune response. Changes in the human microbiome accordingly have substantial influences on atopy, neurological disorders, metabolic disorders, and a range of complex conditions and disease states.

This lecture will discuss evidence about these mechanisms of interaction, and how we have started to disturb the delicate balance of the immune-microbe equilibrium, impacting the development and function of our immune systems. Applying new strategies to identify how the microbial ecosystem correlates with disease states and treatment efficacy through Microbiome-Wide Association Studies (MWAS) is altering the trajectory of precision medicine and providing a new framework for facilitating patient care.

Despite the promise of these approaches, to date there are still no FDA approved microbiome related therapies, raising concerns about over-promising of the microbiome as a real treatment strategy. There is considerable concern about the need to move beyond studies that identify correlations between the microbiome and disease, toward intervention trials that will actually explore specific mechanistic relationships. It truly is time to start delivering on the promise of the microbiome.

About the Speaker

Jack Gilbert is Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and he is Chief Scientific Advisor for the company 4Inno. Previously he was Professor of Surgery and Director of The Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago, and before that he was a senior scientist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK.

Jack uses molecular analysis to test fundamental hypotheses in microbial ecology, and he co-founded the Earth Microbiome Project and American Gut Project to advance research in these areas. He also founded a company, BiomeSense Inc, to produce automated microbiome sensors for clinical research.

Jack is an author on over 300 peer reviewed publications and book chapters on microbial ecology, and he is the founding Editor-in-Chief of mSystems Journal. He also co-authored Dirt is Good a popular science guide to the microbiome and children’s health.

Among other honors, Jack has been awarded the Altemeier Prize of the Surgical Infection Society and the WH Pierce Prize of the Society for Applied Microbiology. In addition, he has been listed as one of the Brilliant Ten by Popular Scientist, as one of the 50 most influential scientists by Business Insider and as one of the 40 Under 40 by Crain’s Business Chicago.

Jack earned his Ph.D. from Unilever and Nottingham University in the UK, and he did postdoctoral work at Queens University in Canada.