The Official Blog of the Annual Translational Microbiome Conference

The official blog of the Annual Translational Microbiome Conference provides readers with information, insight and analysis regarding the microbiome.

Tailoring Microbiome Interventions: The Intersection of Precision Medicine and the Microbiome

By Carrie Brodmerkel, Senior Director, Systems Pharmacology & Biomarkers, Janssen R&D

The microbiome gets a lot of press these days, from leading scientific journals such as Science publishing a special issue “Microbiota at Work” in April, 1 to articles about fecal microbiome transplants in major newspapers like the Washington Post.2 Many articles tout the need for a healthy gut microbiome and that the diversity of the gut microbiome is what maintains not just gut health but overall health. But for all of the hype, what do we really know about what a healthy microbiome looks like? What do we really know about the impact of the microbiome on health and disease? Is there a universal definition of a healthy microbiome or is it more likely that the each person has his or her own unique healthy gut microbiome?

A study published in 2015 in Science Advances studied the fecal, oral and skin microbiome of an Amerindian tribe, the Yanomami, who were completely isolated from the Western world.3 The researchers found that the Yanomami had the highest levels of human microbial diversity ever reported. They also don’t suffer from Western diseases like cardiovascular and metabolic disease or autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Does this infer that gut microbial diversity equates to better health and less disease? That has not yet been proven and it may be that the microbiome in this tribe works in conjunction with a far different lifestyle and lack of chemical and pharmaceutical impacts and interventions to support a lack of disease. Still it drives the question of whether personalized cocktails of microbes will be needed to achieve optimal gut health for a given individual or group of individuals with similar microbiomes?

This collision of microbiome research and the precision medicine space, and the potential need for patient selection and personalization of microbiome therapies, will play out as microbial based therapeutics begin to hit the clinic. Evidence supporting this need already exists from fecal microbial transplant studies in C. difficile and inflammatory bowel disease where the response rates in an unselected population of patients leaves opportunity for improvement. Efforts to understand the functional effects of the microbes that inhabit the human gut and determining which promote health and which promote disease will be essential in unraveling the microbial communities necessary to promote health at the population or cohort level.

Hear more about Janssen’s efforts to define patient stratification strategies and personalized medicine in the age of microbial-based therapeutics at Arrowhead’s 3rd Annual Translational Microbiome Conference, being held April 12-13, 2017 in Boston, MA. For more information, visit: http://www.microbiomeconference.com

1 Science Magazine April 2016 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6285

2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/04/28/scientists-think-theyve-found-the-secret-to-better-poop-transplants/?utm_term=.91f00d298c91

3 http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/3/e1500183.

Interestingly, despite their isolation and no known exposure to antibiotics, it was found that the tribe harbored bacteria that carried functional antibiotic resistance genes, including those that confer resistance to synthetic antibiotics and are syntenic with mobilization elements.

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Shahram Lavasani, Ph.D.

Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer
Immune Biotech

Shahram Lavasani is an international keynote speaker and entrepreneur in the field of the microbiome. He received his PhD in Immunology from Lund University in Sweden while studying the immunoregulation and immunotherapies in multiple sclerosis (MS). With more than two decades of teaching and research expertise on Gut-Brain axis, he has pioneered research in MS by demonstrating gut inflammation and barrier dysfunction and introduced microbiota-based therapies using probiotic bacterial consortia. He is the founder of ImmuneBiotech developing novel microbiome therapeutics. The company has access to a proprietary lactobacilli library and advanced selection technologies to design nutritional formulations for optimal management of the diseases. ImmuneBiotech´s first product GutMagnificTM has been designed to address the underlying causes of IBS and successfully launched to European market in October 2019.

Scott Jackson, Ph.D.

Group Leader, Complex Microbial Systems
NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology

In this current role, Scott is leading international efforts to improve microbiome and metagenomic measurements by organizing inter-lab studies, developing reference materials and reference methods, and developing in vitro tools that allow us to better understand microbial community resilience and evolution.

Rachel Clemens, Ph.D.

Commerical Innovation Manager, Life Science Lead
ISS US National Lab, Center for Advancement in Science in Space

Rachel Clemens has focused her career on advancing life science research and product development through experiments in space. In her current role as a Commercial Innovation Manager at the ISS US National Lab, she brings life science research to low earth orbit. She leads partnership development specifically with life science companies – from biotech start-ups to large pharmaceutical companies. She is eager to entertain even the craziest of ideas and passionate about finding novel solutions to Earth-bound problems.

Lynne Elmore, Ph.D.

Director, Translational Cancer Research Program
American Cancer Society

Lynne Elmore, PhD, is the director of the Translational Cancer Research program in the Extramural Grants department of the American Cancer Society (ACS). She manages a research portfolio focused on cell biology, infectious disease, the microbiome, molecular genetics, and cancer drug discovery.

Garth Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Professor of Otolayngology - Head & Neck Surgery
Drexel University College of Medicine

Dr Ehrlich is Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM) in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Dr. Ehrlich is also the founder and director of three Research Centers of Excellence in the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease: the Center for Genomic Sciences (CGS); the Center for Advanced Microbial Processing (CAMP); and the Center for Surgical Infections and Biofilms.

He also directs Drexel University’s Core Genomics Facility and the Meta-Omics Shared Resource for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – an NCI-designated Cancer Center.

Momo Vuyisich, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
Viome

Momo Vuyisich is a co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Viome, a data-driven personalized nutrition company. Momo provides scientific leadership at Viome and his vision is to revolutionize healthcare from "symptoms management" to a true preventative medicine. He leads product development, clinical test implementation, and comprehensive clinical research portfolio.

Momo is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech. Before co-founding Viome in 2016, Momo spent 12 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he led the Applied Genomics team, which developed the core technology used by Viome today.

Nancy Caralla

Founding President, Executive Director
C Diff Foundation

Nancy C Caralla is a three-time Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) survivor. She has accumulated over 25 years of experience in the nursing profession blended with over 30 years in international construction management. Over the past several years, Nancy, in partnership with C Diff Foundation members, has focused on raising C. difficile awareness through education and advocating for Clostridium difficile infection prevention, treatments, clinical trials, AMR, and environmental safety worldwide. The C Diff Foundation is a non-profit organization that takes great pride in its volunteers, chairpersons, and committees.

Rachel Teitelbaum, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer
Hervana

Rachel Teitelbaum, PhD is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hervana Bio Ltd. Dr. Teitelbaum earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the Sue Golding Graduate Division of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her academic research career spans more than 15 years, with a focus on research in infectious diseases, in particular relating to the host-pathogen interface, elements of the immune response to intracellular pathogens, the development of animal models of infection and the development of vaccines, in particular for providing effective mucosal immunity. With the founding of Hervana Bio Ltd, Dr. Teitelbaum has applied some of these principles to developing a probiotic therapeutic platform in Women’s Health applications, including the development of a non-hormonal, long-acting biologic contraceptive.

Sonia Timberlake, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research
Finch Therapeutics

Dr. Sonia Timberlake is the VP of Research at Finch Therapeutics, a microbiome therapeutics company. Sonia is an expert at designing NGS-based algorithms for applications in microbial genomics, immunogenomics, and evolution. Prior to joining Finch, she built and managed AbVitro's computational algorithms and infrastructure, supporting high throughput single-cell immune phenotyping and repertoire sequencing technology. This technology platform was acquired by Juno Therapeutics, where Sonia led a multidisciplinary team to harness native adaptive immune responses for developing engineered cell therapies in oncology.

Dae-Wook Kang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of Toledo

Dr. Kang received his BS and MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Seoul National University and his PhD (also in Civil and Environmental Engineering) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining the University of Toledo in 2019, Dr. Kang was a research scientist in the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Arizona State University where he was involved in groundbreaking work to establish the relationships between human gut microbiota and autism spectrum disorders. His broad research interests are employing multi-omics technologies and bioinformatics to advance understanding of the role of microbiota on human health, environment, and engineering systems, and eventually to improve human public health and environment sustainability.

Amy Feehan, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Ochsner Health System

Dr. Feehan is an early stage investigator who received her BS and PhD in Neuroscience from The Brain Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans. She has conducted research in humans and rodents covering topics ranging from drug development of novel endomorphin analogs for pain, to sleep and circadian rhythms research and most recently the gut-brain axis and infectious disease. Her doctoral work led to two patents for a compound that reverses both acute and chronic pain with no observable risk of addiction. She currently works as a research scientist in the Infectious Disease department at Ochsner in New Orleans designing and executing investigator-initiated clinical trials.

Sangeeta Khare, Ph.D.

Research Microbiologist, Division of Microbiology, National Center for Toxicological Research
US Food & Drug Administration

Dr. Sangeeta Khare is a Research Microbiologist in the Division of Microbiology, at National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Sangeeta Khare leads an active team with a research emphasis on host-pathogen and host-microbiome interaction during perturbations with xenobiotic agents (nanoparticles, antibiotics and other drugs, natural products and additives). The main focus of Dr. Khare’s research group is on establishing innovative parameters of host intestinal toxicity.

Julius Goepp, MD

Chief Executive Officer
Scaled Microbiomics

Dr. Goepp is the inventor of “Systems and Methods for Altering Microbiome to Reduce Disease Risk and Manifestations of Disease,” filed as a PCT patent with USPTO on August 27, 2017 and assigned to Scaled Microbiomics, LLC. He has spearheaded the development of Scaled Microbiomics to date, including developing a research team, equipping a laboratory, designing the experiments that produced supporting data on use of IgY in microbiome applications, and interpreting the results.

Ze'ev Ronai, Ph.D.

Professor
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Ze'ev Ronai obtained his Ph.D. in 1985 from The Hebrew University, Jerusalem Israel and performed his postdoctoral research with I.B. Weinstein at the Cancer Center of Columbia University in New York. He established the Molecular Carcinogenesis Program at the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York, and in 1997 moved to the Ruttenberg Cancer Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, where he was a tenured professor up to 2005. During 2004, Dr. Ronai moved to Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (formerly known as Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute) in La Jolla CA, where he is a Professor. He served as the Director of the Signal Transduction Program (2005-2013), as the Deputy Director for the Cancer Center (2008-2014), and as the Scientific Director for the La Jolla site (2014-2016). He established a cancer center at the Technion in Israel (Technion Integrated Cancer Center), while maintaining his activities at SBP (2016-2018). He is currently Chief Scientific Advisor and Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), La Jolla CA.

Henrik Bjorn Nielsen, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
Clinical Microbiomics

Henrik Bjørn Nielsen, PhD, is Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Clinical Microbiomics where he is part of the leadership team together with the CEO and CBO. As CSO he is responsible for directing the science team and the scientific innovation, in addition to overseeing all client projects. Bjørn has an outstanding background as both group-leader at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and has been a frontrunner in the field of microbiome research for more than a decade. He has published more than 20 high-visibility publications within the microbiome field, covering biomedical discoveries and a series of key analysis concepts for microbiome data. Bjørn has extensive expertise in analysing, integrating and managing diverse types of data. With his experience and innovative mindset, Bjørn has played a key role in establishing Clinical Microbiomics as the leading CRO for advanced microbiome analysis.

Cecile Clavaud, Ph.D.

Project Leader in Skin Microbiome, L'Oreal Advanced Research
L'Oreal

Research and Innovation, France Dr. Clavaud's initial expertise is chemistry and biochemistry to design new radiolabelled probes for medical imaging (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique, Saclay, FRANCE) followed by four years post doc in the Aspergillus Unit (Institut Pasteur, Paris, FRANCE) to characterize the molecular mechanisms involved in the fungal cell wall polysaccharides biosynthesis. Dr. Clavaud joined L’Oréal Research and Innovation in 2011, to work in an open innovation mode, establishing partnership with international academic experts in the skin and scalp microbiome field. At that stage, she explored the ecology of skin microbiota members (bacteria, fungi and viruses) observed in various skin physio-pathologies and body sites in order to identify key determinants involved in the interaction with skin. Since 2017, she has been involved in building a laboratory dedicated to the skin – microbiota interactions in 3D reconstructed skin models, to better understand how commensal microbiota can impact positively the skin barrier function and the skin quality. Today, she is leading transformation projects turning the recent microbiome knowledge into anti-aging applications.

Anandh Babu Pon Velayutham, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition and Inegrative Physiology
University of Utah

Dr. Anandh Babu Pon Velayutham is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology at the University of Utah. His research focuses on identifying novel dietary compounds for the prevention of vascular disease in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. His current research examines the vascular effects of blueberries and strawberries with special emphasis on the microbial metabolites of berry anthocyanins and the molecular signaling mechanisms involved. Dr. Velayutham's research aims to understand the causal association between dietary berries, gut microbiome and vascular health.

Sara Ferrando Martinez, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
AstraZeneca

Dr. Sara Ferrando-Martinez is a Research Scientist at AstraZeneca. Sara is an immunologist that focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying the deterioration of the immune system and how to rejuvenate and recover immune responses as a strategy for immunotherapy. Within AZ Sara is trying to uncover the link between microbiome, microbiome-related products and immune modulation and its impact in health and disease.

A. Stewart Campbell, Ph.D.

VP, Early Stage Development
Axial Biotherapeutics

Dr. Campbell brings more than 25 years of drug discovery and development experience to the team. He has built and led R&D teams involved in a variety of environments from early stage research through to advanced clinical development in small start-ups to mid-sized companies. With capable colleagues he has been fortunate to have triaged several drug candidates from discovery to clinical proof-of-concept in multiple therapeutic areas. He received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Queen’s University, which was followed by post-doctoral research at Duke University. He has consulted for several start-up companies in multiple technology and therapeutic areas in the Greater Boston area and is co-inventor on more than 15 issued patents.

Gregg Silverman, MD

Professor of Medicine & Pathology
NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Silverman is Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Associate Director of the Division of Rheumatology, and the Director of the Laboratory of B-cell Immunobiology at the NYU School of Medicine. He is an elected member of AOA, ASCI and the Henry Kunkel Society. After training in Internal Medicine at UCSD, he was a fellow at The Scripps Research Institute in rheumatology and clinical immunology, with a focus on molecular immunology and the structural basis of immune recognition. He has authored over 160 publications and he is on the editorial board of several prestigious journals. Work in his lab is highly translational, with a special interest in B cells and the properties of autoantibodies. and more recently the contributions of the gut microbiome to autoimmune disease.

Mahmoud Ghannoum, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Dermatology
Case Western University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

Dr Mahmoud Ghannoum received MSc in Medicinal Chemistry and PhD in Microbial Physiology from University of Technology in England, and an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case. Presently he is a tenured Professor and Director of the Integrated Microbiome Core and Center for Medical Mycology, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UH) where he established a multidisciplinary Center of Excellence that combines basic and translational research investigating medically important fungi from the test tube to the bedside. More recently he pioneered the studies on the fungal communities residing in our body and coined the term ‘Mycobiome”.

He is also a fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America and past President of the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas (MMSA). In 2016, Dr Ghannoum received the Rohda Benham Award presented for his continuous outstanding and meritorious contributions to medical mycology from the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas and he also received the Freedom to Discover Award from Bristol-Myers Squibb for his work on microbial biofilms. In 2017, he was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Beside his academic career Dr. Ghannoum is an entrepreneur-scientist who launched a number of companies focusing on the treatment of biofilm infections as well as microbial dysbiosis as it relates to gut health.

Pamela Silver, Ph.D.

Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School

Pamela Silver received her BS in Chemistry and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California where she was an NIH Pre-doctoral Fellow. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University in the Dept of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where she was a Fellow of the American Cancer Society and The Medical Foundation. Subsequently, Pam was an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and then moved to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute where she was a Professor in the Dept of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Pam became one of the founding members of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and the first Director of the Harvard University PhD Program in Systems Biology and one of the first members of the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Her work has been recognized by an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association, a Research Scholar of the March of Dimes, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, Claudia Adams Barr Investigator, an NIH MERIT award, the Philosophical Society Lecture, a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is among the top global influencers in Synthetic Biology and her work was named one of the top 10 breakthroughs by the World Economic Forum. She serves on numerous public and private advisory boards including the board of the Internationally Genetics Engineering Machines (iGEM) Competition, and she is the co-founder of several biotech companies.