Prompt: Imagine yourself as the head of a funding agency (like the National Institute of Health) in which your job is to look at proposals for research projects and decide what projects to award funding to. Based on your readings this term, discuss a research project (or projects) that you would be most excited about funding as they relate to learning more about microbial influences on human health. As part of your response, consider what are we likely to learn from the project and how that might be important in future healthcare decisions.
If I could only pick one project that I would be excited to fund, I think it would be related to autoimmune diseases. AI diseases are something so prevalent in the healthcare community right now, and from my own personal experience (being a patient and working in a healthcare setting) as well as experience through classes and educational platforms, it seems like an area that most healthcare providers still have so many questions about. There is obviously a huge connection between microbes and AI diseases ranging from connective tissue diseases to neurological to skin diseases. I would like the project to look specifically at different diet protocols and how they influence microbial health within the human bodies. It would be interesting to quantify symptoms and look at correlations between types of microbes and symptoms patients are experiencing.
This would be an important project because it would provide valuable information to healthcare professionals dealing with AI diseases on a regular basis (dermatologists, GI specialists, rheumatologists, etc.) and provide an additional treatment avenue for patients. Currently, treatment options for patients with autoimmune diseases are not great. Most are immune-compromising medications that have MANY unwanted side effects. A dietary change for AI patients could be really life changing. Looking at the specific microbes associated with disease states vs AI patients with few symptoms might also be a good way to target specific microbes that could be used in FMT for this specific patient population.