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How biologist Jeffrey Gordon’s once obscure study brought microbiome to forefront of health research

| | November 7, 2016
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Jeffrey L. Gordon is a biologist and director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is internationally known for his research on gastrointestinal development and how gut microbial communities affect normal intestinal function, shape various aspects of human physiology including our nutritional status, and affect predisposition to diseases.

A hot tip for [the 2016] Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was Jeffrey Gordon…Over the past 15 screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-13-53-amyears, Gordon has [helped propel] a [once] obscure study of boring gut microbes to being a nearly daily topic in the media. Although often over-hyped, gut microbes are being used, and actively explored, as exciting treatments for many common diseases.

What makes his study of microbes worthy?

[Gordon] was the first to explore the role microbes could play in obesity using lab mice.

In a series of experiments[,]…he first showed that the microbes were disrupted in over-fed obese mice…[Gordon] showed that sterile mice could eat what they liked without putting on weight. But, when inoculated with normal mouse microbes and given the same food, they put on weight. This clearly showed that microbes were crucial to digesting food. When they transplanted microbes from fat mice into skinny sterile mice they made them obese.

Suddenly obesity could be transferred from one animal to another and you could now think of obesity as an infectious disease….

Gordon’s pioneering work has ensured that despite its complexity and our incomplete understanding, humans can now harness this novel microbiome organ to improve our health.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: If there was a Nobel silver medal, I’d award it to Jeffrey Gordon and our gut microbes

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