The human microbiome and health disparities

How diet influences quantity and quality of microbiota

Trillions of microbes inhabit the human body, forming a complex ecological community that influences normal physiology and susceptibility to disease through its collective metabolic activities and host interactions. Disruptions to the normal balance between the microbiota and the host have been associated with a number of diseases that disproportionately affect the health of minorities. This 2015 ASBMB annual meeting theme will focus on how diet influences the quantity and quality of microbiota that inhabit the human body.

We will take a slightly different angle from more classical microbiome themes and discuss how microbiota differ across people and populations and address the role that they may play in areas of importance in health-disparities research, such as obesity, undernutrition, asthma and preterm birth.

The first session will discuss how diseases, such as chronic diarrhea and undernutrition, in developing countries influence the microbiome.

Sadly, in many instances, early changes have lasting effects and cause irreparable damage to the immune system and contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality in infants and the young. These changes, in many cases, will lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome and even diabetes later in life. In more developed countries like the United States, where fresh fruits and vegetables are often too expensive, over-reliance on cheap, processed foods has both short- and long-term impacts on the obesity epidemic, particularly in low-income children. Two sessions will address these issues.  

The final session will explore an area of microbiome research that largely has been ignored: how race and ethnicity affect microbiome composition in various mucosal compartments.

This theme is sponsored by the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee.

Sonia Flores
Catherine Lozupone
Organizers: Sonia Flores and Catherine Lozupone, both of the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Center.