Learn 'How Microbiomes Influence Health' April 21

Fermilab Arts & Lecture Series will present "Invisible Influences: How Microbiomes Influence Health" with Dr. Jack Gilbert of Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago at 8 p.m. Friday, April 21, in Ramsey Auditorium in Batavia. Tickets are $7.

The human race, like all macrobiological life, evolved in a sea of microbes. There was no way to keep the bacterial and archaeal hordes at bay, so instead life evolved mechanisms to live with these invaders.

The immune system was refined over millions of years to control our interaction with the microbial world, and even to use it as a mechanism of defense, food processing, and vitamin production.

The immune system and the microbiome have shaped each other in extraordinarily elaborate and intricate ways. He will discuss some of the recent evidence highlighting these mechanisms of interaction.

Learn how the last 150 years have started to disturb the delicate balance of the immune-microbe equilibrium.

As the natural ecosystem has been restricted to the built environment, especially in the developed world, where an average of 90 percent of your life takes place indoors, your exposure to the microbial world has been corrupted.

Modern buildings are equipped with surfaces and environmental systems designed to reduce the potential for microbial life to flourish.

This fundamental shift in lifestyle is likely impacting the development and function of the immune systems in ways that only beginning to be understand.

With new experiments adding bacteria back in to our overly sterile existence, in one such study, they were able to significantly reduce cow's milk allergy in infants through active manipulation of the gastrointestinal microbiota.

Exploring the dynamic interactions that humans share with their indoor space, and mapping the interactions that lead to alterations in the microbiome will be extremely important for determining the best way to augment our environment with a beneficial microbiome.

Professor Jack A. Gilbert earned his Ph.D. from Unilever and Nottingham University, UK in 2002, and received his postdoctoral training at Queens University, Canada. He returned to the UK in 2005 to Plymouth Marine Laboratory at a senior scientist until his move to Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago in 2010.

Gilbert is the director of the Microbiome Center and a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. He is also group leader for Microbial Ecology at Argonne National Laboratory, research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History, and scientific fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

For information or reservations, go to to order online, or call (630) 840-ARTS (2787) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Ramsey Auditorium is in Wilson Hall, the central building of Fermilab, off Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia. Both the west, Pine Street at Kirk Road, and east, Batavia Road at Route 59, entrances are open for Arts & Lecture Series events.

Scientists with the Human Microbiome Project map bacteria, fungi and other microbes, such as Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria (green), left, and the bacterium, Enterococcus faecalis. Images courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Agriculture Department
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