Why do people have such different microbiomes from one another?

Discussing a computational approach to answering what controls inter-individual variability in the human microbiome.


Modulating human microbial communities continues to be an area of intense academic and entrepreneurial interest because of the role of the human microbiome in determining health and disease. However, these microbial communities often exhibit great inter-individual variability. Previously, it was unknown whether this was a result of these host-specific effects from a range of lifestyles, physiology, and genetics (i.e. host-specific) or whether it is a result of differences in the set of colonizing organisms (i.e. host-independent). An understanding of such dynamics would allow for improved modulation of the microbiome because we would then be able to determine whether therapies needed to be individually personalized or if they could be general, respectively.

At this week’s journal club at 3:00pm on Friday, July 29 in MUMC 3N10A we will discuss the “Universality of Human Microbial Dynamics” by Bashan et al. In their publication, they apply a new computational method to real data from the Human Microbiome Project and Student Microbiome Project to determine whether the ecological dynamics of several human microbial communities is host-specific or host-independent.

I look forward to discussing:

  1. The methodology behind their computation approach (DOC analysis)
  2. The authors’ application of DOC analysis to real data
  3. The application of DOC analysis to other microbiome data (e.g. cystic fibrosis)

We will continue the conversation at the Phoenix at 4!

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