From the Human Microbiome Project to the Earth Microbiome Project
Rob Knight, Ph.D.Wolfe Family Endowed Chair in Microbiome Research at Rady Children's
Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation
Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering and Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, San Diego
Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.
The Human Microbiome Project drove an explosion of technologies aimed at understanding the vast array of microbes present throughout our bodies. The resulting ability to scale up DNA sequence data acquisition by a factor of millions brought new insight into the majority of our cells and our genes, in our microbiota and microbiomes respectively. It also revealed major surprises, such as the extent of variation among individuals in terms of the underlying species distributions, the constancy in terms of metabolic function, and the patterns of variation over time.
In this talk, Rob Knight will explore the challenges of applying these techniques to ecosystems across the planet to discover the connections among human, animal and environmental health. By understanding spatial and temporal dynamics of microbial ecosystems — and the relationships among them — researchers are poised to develop fundamentally new ways to picture and decipher health and disease.