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Me, Myself and My Microbiome: Meet the trillions of microbes you've unknowingly been living with

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

Not all microbes are bad. Our body houses trillions of microbes that help keep us healthy. Come explore this microbial world inside us; discover your unique microbial signature and how it affects everything from your immunity to your behavior!

Have you ever wondered what makes you “You”? Is it just your unique DNA? Would you believe it, if you were told that there are as many microbial cells in your body as there are “human” cells? Come discover your microbiome, a mind-boggling community of bacteria, viruses and fungi, that helps make you the human you are! This course will explore the fascinating world of these microbes; who they are, where they come from and why we need them.

Through the looking glass of this course, you will learn to see your skin, gut and other body surfaces as ecosystems where special microbes are selected to live in a symbiotic relationship with you. Using hands-on laboratory experiments, grow your microbial fingerprint in the lab and see for yourselves how everything from the food you eat to the lotions you apply affect your microbiome.

Get introduced to the cutting edge sequencing techniques that power the exciting field of microbiome research. Students can avail themselves of the thrilling opportunity to participate in a real world research project called the American Gut. (Check out the project's web site and find out how you can send out a sample of your choosing, and get a look at your very own microbiome.)

You will soon understand why microbiome researchers love talking about poop. Students will dive into the fascinating field of gut microbiome research and how the microbes in the gut affect every organ in your body. Learn more about the cutting edge medical technique of fecal transplants (or ‘Poo-T’) which harnesses the power of poop to fight nasty bacterial infections.

Microbiome research is the next big thing in the biomedical field and has revolutionized our understanding of human biology. Be it Poo-T or probiotics, this research is already part of our everyday lives. After completing this course, students will be able to understand and evaluate for themselves the advances in this field. The course will leave them with an appreciation for the thriving ecosystem that is the human body and how our diet and lifestyle affect our microbiome and thereby our health.

This course builds on concepts from a variety of areas such as microbiology, immunology and host-microbe interactions.

By the end of this course, students will:

  • appreciate how all these components work together within the body and the delicate balance between genetics and lifestyle required to maintain good health
  • learn basic techniques of microbiology and also get a taste of cutting edge techniques such as microbial sequencing and data analysis
  • be given the tools to critically evaluate advances in microbiome research and contribute to this field in the future.
    • The course requires a basic understanding of the human body and about how cells work. Familiarity with bacteria and basic concepts in microbiology is recommended but not essential. Students with a keen interest in biology, active imagination and critical thinking are encouraged to apply.

      *Please note: This course has a supplemental fee of $50

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