College of Science Lecture Series: Dr. Donata Vercelli
The Microbes Shaping Our Lives
Dr. Donata Vercelli
Professor, Cellular & Molecular Medicine
University of Arizona
For decades, biologists and physicians have seen microbes as foes and agents of disease that need to be wiped out. Now they are realizing that the millions of microbes we harbor are essential for our health. Our microbes live in complex eco-systems highly responsive to environmental signals, outnumber the cells of our body by at least 10-fold, and act both locally, in the organs they inhabit, and at a distance, by releasing small metabolites that travel in our blood. Thus, our microbes influence directly or indirectly virtually all our characteristics: our immunity and our blood pressure, our weight and our cognition and possibly even our mood. Microbial diversity is so extraordinary that each of us carries a distinct set of microbes and can be identified by the microbes s/he carries. The discovery of the microbial world has just begun but is already revolutionizing biology and medicine.