Evening Lectures - Pensacola

Claire Fraser

THE TALK: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease

January 26, 2017


Human beings are colonized with a diverse collection of microorganisms that inhabit every surface and cavity of the body.  This collection of microbes, known as the human microbiome, is made up of nearly one thousand different bacterial species and exists in a mutualistic relationship with us as its host. Indeed, we could not survive without our microbial partners.

The human microbiome plays essential roles in metabolic, physiological, nutritional, and immunological processes and protect us from colonization by harmful bacteria. Many factors that influence the structure and function of the microbiome have been identified, including age, diet, antibiotics, and probiotics. Increasing evidence is pointing to changes in the structure and function of the gut microbiota in a growing list of chronic diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autism, and depression.  In this talk, we will explore what’s known about the human microbiome, how it changes over the course of a lifetime, and how diet and other factors alter the mcirobiome. We will explore the concept of “food as medicine”, and how an increased understanding of the human microbiome may lead to the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments for a variety of human diseases.


Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D. is Director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. She has joint faculty appointments at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the department of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology.

She helped launch the new field of microbial genomics and revolutionized the way microbiology has been studied. Until 2007, she was President and Director of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD, and led the teams that sequenced the genomes of several microbial organisms, including important human and animal pathogens. Her current research is focused on characterization of the human gut microbiome in health and disease.

Her work on the Amerithrax investigation led to the identification of four genetic mutations in the anthrax spores that allowed the FBI to trace the material back to its original source. She is one of the world’s experts in microbial forensics and the growing concern about dual uses – research that can provide knowledge and technologies that could be misapplied.

Dr. Fraser has authored more than 300 publications, edited three books, and served on the editorial boards of nine scientific journals. Between 1997 and 2008, she was the most highly cited investigator in the field of microbiology. Her list of awards include: Fellow, AAAS, American Academy of Microbiology; Elected Member, Institute of Medicine (IOM); E.O. Lawrence Award, U.S. Dept. of Energy, the highest honor bestowed on research scientists by the Department of Energy; Promega Biotechnology Research Award, American Society for Microbiology; Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame; Influential Maryland Award; Drexel College of Medicine Prize in Infectious Diseases; and Thomson Reuter’s The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, 2014.

She has served on many advisory panels for all of the major Federal funding agencies, the National Research Council, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community. In addition, she has contributed her time as a Board member for universities, research institutes, and other non-profit groups because of her commitment to the education of our next generation of scientists.

lecture sponsors

Dr. Ed and Judy Galbavy - Carousel House

season sponsors

Dr. Roger Orth with Gastroenterology Associates