Episode 10: The microbiome and gut-brain communications with Dr. John Cryan

It’s been a little while since we’ve had a new episode of The Microbiome Podcast but we are back after a summer hiatus. On this week’s episode we spoke with Dr. John Cryan from University College Cork in Ireland. Dr. Cryan is a world leader in the study of the communication between the gut and the brain and how the microbiome may influence this pathway. We will be back with a new episode in a few weeks so if you have any questions or requests, please either email us at info@microbiomeinstitute.org or call us at 518-945-8583 and leave a voicemail.

On this week’s episode we discussed: 

Episode 9: The skin microbiome and AOBiome with Dr. Larry Weiss

This week we had our first discussion about the skin microbiome in our conversation with Dr. Larry Weiss, Chief Medical Officer of AOBiome.  AOBiome is a leading company based in Cambridge, MA that is developing treatments for inflammatory skin conditions. They also have a cosmetic product on the market that consists of Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria that the user applies to the skin. We discuss both the cosmetic product as well as AOBiome’s approach to treating skin conditions with Dr. Weiss.

AOBiome is offering listeners of The Microbiome Podcast a 25% discount if you order their product before June 29th. The discount code is ami25. Click here to learn more about the product.

Also, as we discussed on the last episode with Dr. Jacques Ravel, the AMI is sponsoring a citizen science project in which individuals can sequence their vaginal or penile microbiome. To be entered to win a free sampling for Your Private Biome, enter your information here. This will be available for one more week and at that time, we will choose the individuals to receive a free sampling. 

On this week’s podcast we discussed:

  • (2:00) Ritter Pharmaceuticals, a microbiome pharmaceutical company that is working on an oral therapy for reducing lactose intolerance symptoms, filed for a $17 million IPO and is becoming a public company. Read more
  • (2:30) Seres Health, a microbiome company working on a therapeutic for treating Clostridium difficile infection, also filed for an IPO for $100 million and received Breakthrough status from the FDA. Read more.
  • (4:55) A study out of NYU found that wearing contact lenses altered the eye microbiome compared to non-contact wearers. Read the abstract
  • (9:31) We talked a bit about AOBiome. Learn more about AOBiome. www.aobiome.com
  • (11:17) Dr. Larry Weiss gave an overview of the skin microbiome and ammonia oxidizing bacteria.
  • (13:22) An article out of NYU (led the same scientist who led the contact lens study) that studied a group of aboriginal Amerindians and found that they had perfect skin and still contained ammonia oxidizing bacteria on the skin. Read our blog post about the study
  • (16:34) Dr. Weiss discussed the goals of AOBiome and how they are approaching the skin microbiome.
  • (18:55) AOBiome’s cosmetic product that applies ammonia oxidizing bacteria to the skin. Learn more about the product. There is a discount code for our listeners for 25% off - ami25. 
  • (26:00) Larry mentioned a Ted Talk about combatting smelly armpits. Watch the TED Talk
  • (29:18) AOBiome’s therapeutic research areas and specifically acne.
  • (32:25) Eczema and how the microbiome could be used to treat the condition.
  • (39:15) Bacterial vaginosis and AOBiome’s approach to this infection.
  • (42:51) Larry’s career going from a company called CleanWell, an antimicrobial company, to AOBiome, a company that administers bacteria to the body.
  • (45:25) Hang hygiene and hand washing and Larry mentioned a study from the US Navy that found washing hands lowered the risk for getting a respiratory illness. Read the study.
  • (50:16) On the aftershow, we discussed hand washing, whether we wear glasses or contacts, and Lebron James and the NBA finals.

Episode 8: The vaginal microbiome with Dr. Jacques Ravel

This was a particularly exciting episode as we had our first conversation about the vaginal microbiome on The Microbiome Podcast. We had Dr. Jacques Ravel from The University of Maryland School of Medicine on the podcast who is one of the world’s experts in the vaginal microbiome. Dr. Ravel gave a great overview of the vaginal microbiome and it’s importance for women’s health. He also announced a new initiative that is launching today, June 1st, that Jacques started called Your Private Biome. Your Private Biome is a citizen science project that allows women and their partners to sample their vaginal and penile microbiome and receive information of what their microbiome looks like and how it compares to other people in the study. The AMI is sponsoring free sampling for a number of people who are interested in participating in the study

On this week’s podcast we discuss:

  • (1:20) The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit ideas from various stakeholders on the future needs of microbiome research. Read the RFI.
  • (2:55) A recent paper out of Curtis Huttenhower’s laboratory describing how microbiome samples could be traced back to their hosts and if this could be used to track individuals related to forensics and other applications. Read the paper. Read our blog post on the paper
  • (5:22) We begin our conversation with Dr. Jacques Ravel. Read more about Dr. Ravel’s research
  • (5:47) Dr. Jacques Ravel gives an introduction to the vaginal microbiome. Read more about his research laboratory at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
  • (8:23) Dr. Ravel mentions a paper by Dr. Larry Forney about the vaginal microbiome of adolescent girls. Read the paper.  
  • (20:10) Other health issues related the microbiome such as bacterial vaginosis and STDs.
  • (30:30) A new citizen science project called Your Private Biome that offers women as well as their partners and families that allows women to sample their vaginal microbiome. Read more about Your Private Biome
  • (34:59) A paper on circumcision and it’s influence on bacterial load on the penis. Read the paper
  • (40:40) On the after show, David and Bill talk about their own health issues, specifically allergies.
  • (46:15) During our conversation of Bill’s cat allergies, we mention the Kitty Microbiome. Learn more here.

Remember to call in to ask any questions about the microbiome that you would like answered on future podcasts. The number is 518-945-8583. 

Episode 7: Gut bacteria and the circadian clock with Drs. Eugene Chang and Vanessa Leone

On this week’s podcast we spoke with Drs. Eugene Chang and Vanessa Leone from the University of Chicago. Drs. Chang and Leone recently published a paper describing that gut bacteria influence the circadian clock.  We talked with them about their most recent paper and talked about how this could influence humans.  Remember to call in to ask any questions about the microbiome that you would like answered on future podcasts. The number is 518-945-8583. 

On the podcast this week we discussed:

  • Two scientific talks that David saw in New York City. First (0:37), a talk by AMI Scientific Advisory Board member Marty Blaser about antibiotics and obesity. We then (1:23) discussed a talk by Chris Mason about the microbiome and his study on the microbes in the NYC transit system. Dr. Mason published his slides on twitter so if you’re interested in seeing his slides, you can see them here.
  • (2:26) Dr. Tim Spector from Kings College London had his son eat only McDonalds for 10 days straight. His son lost approximately 40% of the bacterial diversity in his gut. Read more about it here.
  • (3:40) The British Gut Project that Dr. Tim Spector leads, a partner of The American Gut Project. Check out the British Gut Project.
  • (5:37) A company called Biomecite Diagnostics that licensed technology from The University of Maryland School of Medicine to develop molecular diagnostics to detect inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Read more here
  • (6:10) We gave an overview of diurnal changes, circadian clock, and the microbiome.
  • (9:21) We began the interview with Drs. Chang and Vanessa Leone and discussed their paper that found that cirdcadian clocks were influenced by gut microbes. Read the paper in Cell Host and Microbe. Read our blog post about this work.     
  • (11:47) Dr. Leone discussed a few seminal papers from 2014 about diurnal changes. Read this paper about jet-lag and the microbiome
  • (34:15) After the interview with Drs. Chang and Leone we talked about our own sleep patterns.
  • (37:18) We gave our own opinions on Deflategate and Bill goes on a little rant about the Patriots, Tom Brady, and deflated footballs.

Next weeks podcast will be with Dr. Jacques Ravel from the University of Maryland School of Medicine about the vaginal microbiome. 

Episode 6: The microbiome, autism, and serotonin production with Dr. Elaine Hsiao

On this week’s podcast we talked with Dr. Elaine Hsiao from California Institute of Technology.  Dr. Hsiao recently started her own laboratory where she studies how the microbes in our gut modulate neural activity and complex behaviors. We talked with Elaine about her most recent paper describing how the microbiome plays a role in regulating serotonin production as well as a paper she published in 2013 describing the microbiome’s connection to regulating autism-related behaviors.

On the podcast this week we discussed:

  • (2:20) Last week’s guests Erica and Justin Sonnenburg were featured in a New York Magazine article. Read the article
  • (3:48) The Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health launched a grand challenge titled Addressing Newborn and Infant Gut Health Through Bacteriophage-Mediated Microbiome Engineering. Learn more
  • (6:22) uBiome launched a clinical laboratory. Read more
  • (7:56) Second Genome partnered with the University of Cork in Ireland to develop therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases. Read more.
  • (9:02) Dupont recently acquired Taxon Biosciences, a microbiome company. Read more
  • (11:15) A caller asked how long his microbiome would take to recover to it’s previous state after taking antibiotics. We based the answer on a paper by David Relman published in 2010. Read the paper.
  • (16:19) We start the interview with Elaine Hsiao. Check out her laboratory webpage.
  • (18:00) We talked with Elaine about her seminal paper on the microbiome and it’s possible connection to autism spectrum disorders. Read the paper.
  • (31:06) We talked with Elaine about her recent paper showing that gut bacteria are important for production of serotonin. Read the paper.

We will be back in two weeks with Drs. Eugene Chang and Vanessa Leone from the University of Chicago discussing how the microbiome may be involved in the complex relationship between disruptions to circadian rhythms and obesity. Please call in with any questions for Bill and David or for Drs. Chang and Leone to 518-945-8583. 

Episode 5: Diet and its impact on our microbiota and health with Drs. Erica and Justin Sonnenburg

On this week’s podcast we talked with Drs. Erica and Justin Sonnenburg from Stanford University about the effects that diet and specifically dietary fiber have on our microbiota and its impact on health. Erica and Justin recently co-authored a book called The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health. The book comes out today, April 21st, and we highly recommend checking it out for both microbiome scientists and non-scientists alike who have an interest in the microbiome.  Buy it here on Amazon

On the next episode, we will again answer listener questions so please call 518-945-8583 and leave a voicemail with your question. We will be talking with Dr. Elaine Hsiao, a Professor at California Institute of Technology, about the microbiome and its link to autism as well as regulation of serotonin levels.

On the podcast this week we talked about:

(1:17) Dr. Rob Knight received a Creative Promise in Biomedical Science Prize from the Vilcek Foundation. Read more.
(3:09) Rob Knight also published a book called Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes. Click here to buy it on Amazon.
(3:33) uBiome recently began a pregnancy microbiome study to better understand how the bacteria in our bodies change during and after pregnancy. Find out more on the uBiome website
(4:56) Microbiome Therapeutics performed a clinical study with an investigational drug in type 2 diabetics taking metformin and found that the drug resulted in more tolerability for patients and fewer side effects than metformin without the drug. Read more.  

In the (9:40) conversation with Erica and Justin Sonnenburg (read more about their research), we talked about several topics pertaining to diet and dietary fiber and its impact on our microbiota and health. We also discussed: 

(11:49) Why they decided to write the book.
(16:05) Their personal experiences having children and the importance of nurturing their health and its impact on their lives.
(17:55) Dietary fibers and differences among various types of fibers in our diets.
(26:15) How fast does diet change the microbiota?
(32:05) Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron and why it is Erica and Justin's favorite microbe and a study Justin published in 2005 while he was in Jeff Gordon's lab. Read the paper here.  
(37:35) How microbiome therapies are going to look in the future. 
(41:00) How eating better can make an impact now on our overall health. Read the seminal obesity and microbiome paper Erica mentions from the Gordon laboratory

We also answered two other (44:00) listener questions about phage therapy and organic vs. non-organic baby and adult foods. 

Next week we will be talking with Dr. Elaine Hsiao from Cal Tech so please call 518-945-8583 with your questions about autism and the microbiome as well as the microbiome's ability to regulate serotonin levels. 

Episode 4: What's hot in the microbiome field with Kristina Campbell

This week on the podcast we talk with Kristina Campbell from Gut Microbiota for Health. Kristina is a science writer who covers stories related to the gut microbiome. We also announced a phone number that listeners can call to ask questions or leave comments for the next episode of the podcast. The number is 518-945-8583.

The podcast begins with a few recent news stories:

  • (2:57) The Obama administration announced a $1.2B plan to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. Read more
  • (5:00) A group at the University of Nottingham used a 1000 year old recipe to kill MRSA and it was very successful. Read more.
  • (7:13) The Massachusetts Host-Microbiome Center is being created by a $4.8M grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Read more

In the conversation with Kristina (@bykriscampbell on twitter and read her personal blog here) we discussed:

(41:35) After the interview with Kristina, we again discussed the NCAA tournament and how our picks before the Round of 32 are faring.

The next podcast will be with Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine. Leave a voicemail for us at if you have a question for Erica and Justin about the impact of diet on the microbiome or anything else microbiome related.  

Episode 3: Emulsifiers in our food with Dr. Andrew Gewirtz

In this episode of The Microbiome Podcast, we talk with Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, a professor at Georgia State University. 

The episode begins with David and William discussing a few recent news stories about the microbiome:

In the conversation with Dr. Andrew Gewirtz (10:22) they discuss:

  • Dr. Gewirtz’s research on metabolic syndrome, a term for conditions that are related to diabetes. Learn more about Dr. Gewirtz and his research
  • (13:38) His research on Toll-like receptor 5 and how it activates innate immunity in order to combat infectious agents. Read his paper in Science.
  • (21:09) Emulsifiers and his most recent research that showed emulsifiers in food may lead to inflammatory diseases. Read the Nature paper. Read our blog post on the study
  • (32:33) If Dr. Gewirtz changed his diet as a result of the research and if supplement testing methods need to be changed.
  • (39:19) Dr. Gewirtz’s alma matter the University of Albany and Georgia State University where he is a professor, two teams that made the NCAA tournament.

After the interview (42:50) William and David gave their own NCAA picks and make a friendly wager on their picks.

Episode 2: All things microbiome with Dr. Jonathan Eisen

The second episode of The Microbiome Podcast features a conversation with Dr. Jonathan Eisen of University of California, Davis.

In this episode William and David discuss two recent stories in the news:

  • (:44) A study out of Sweden that correlates hand washing dishes to lower levels of allergies in children. Read more from the blog.
  • (1:49) A study that found emulsifiers, a common additive in food, leads to obesity, colitis, and other inflammatory diseases. Read more from the blog.

During the interview with Dr. Eisen they discussed:

  • (3:50) The research that Dr. Eisen focuses on in his own laboratory, the evolution of microbes using DNA sequencing of individual microbes and communities of microbes. Read about Jonathan’s research and laboratory.
  • (4:52) The Earth Microbiome Project, a project led by Dr. Rob Knight and Dr. Jack Gilbert that is looking to sequence millions of microbial communities from around the world. Read more about the Earth Microbiome Project
  • (7:05) Research on the microbial communities on the International Space Station. Read a post by Jonathan on this project
  • (7:39) Research on the microbiome of animals that focuses on pet health, including research on kittens and the microbiome of dogs’ mouths. The Kitten Microbiome.
  • (8:53) Research out of Dr. Eisen’s lab that studied the microbes that are on food and the impact this may have on colonization of the microbiome in humans. Read our blog post from a few months ago about this research.
  • (13:30) Probiotics, the efficacy of probiotics, and risks and problems of the probiotic industry.
  • (15:48) Dr. Eisen’s “Overselling the microbiome” award, why he started it, and a recent awardee. We discuss the risks when doctors claim they can cure things with microbiome science that are unproven. Read about the award.
  • (23:00) Open science and open access publishing and Dr. Eisen’s connection to the Public Library of Science (PLOS). Read about PLoS.
  • (25:58) Women in science and ways to overcome existing disparities.  
  • (31:30) Symbiota, a plant microbiome company in Boston that Dr. Eisen serves as an advisor for. Read about Symbiota.
  • (34:48) How Dr. Eisen got into science.
  • (38:58) What is phylogenomics and how he invented the word.

And finally, (40:55) David and William discuss The Dress and if it is white and gold or black and blue. 

Episode 1: Microbiome of our transit systems with Dr. Chris Mason

In our first podcast, we talk with Dr. Chris Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Mason and his team investigated the DNA profile of the city’s public transit system and published a paper a few weeks ago in Cell Systems

You can read the paper here and our blog post about his work here

We also chatted with Chris for a bit after the interview and we had an interesting discussion.  If you enjoyed our conversation with Chris, we recommend you listen to the rest of our conversation with him. 

The next episode will be available in 2 weeks.