As I've stated elsewhere, my interest in the human microbiome became much more personal when I began to consider the potential for improving human existence. Specifically, I learned about the potential role that our "gut bugs" may play in neurologic conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, which my grandfather has. This first came to my attention in the video below, which recently appeared on PBS's Nova series. It's a nice introduction to the microbiome, as it's presented in everyday language that the non-scientist can understand. Click this link: What's Living In You?
I highly recommend it!
Clearly, simply talking about fecal virtues with a straight face is not enough. We must all continue to advance the limits of our understanding, whether "we" is leading microbiome scientist Dr. Rob Knight or high school student Jimmy Underwood.
I contacted Dr. Knight's American Gut project last year to express my interest in all things "microbiome." They graciously gave me detailed advice, recommending that I read Ed Yong's bestseller I Contain Multitudes (amazing read) and that I further advance my knowledge in any manner possible. To this end, I spent Summer 2018 taking a course at Brown University called "Me, Myself, and My Microbiome" and was honored to participate in the Biological and Biomedical Science session of the Yale Young Global Scholars program. The Knight Lab additionally informed me of the integral role of computers in mapping the massive amounts of data involved in identifying all of the billions of microbe species living within us. For this reason, I am currently trudging through a computer programming elective in school this year.
All this recent experience is what brings me to halfhuman.org. Dr. Knight's AmericanGut.org initiative, "one of the largest crowd-sourced, citizen science projects in the country," has agreed to assist our members in identifying our members' individual microbes. We are starting a "Microbiome Club" at Jackson Preparatory School to advance the cause and will welcome any other individuals who wish to participate. Having hopefully laid an adequate foundation, my own personal goal is to spend Summer 2019 in an established lab that is doing exciting research in this frontier of medicine and science.
October 3, 2018