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.
As there is a growing acceptance and understanding of mental health, I would be most excited to fund a research project which focused on the use of probiotics to relieve patients from symptoms of mental health disorders. We have learned that via the gut-brain axis, our mental health influences our gut microbiome and vice versa. Thus, I would expect to find that probiotics to restore gut dysbiosis would have positive effects on mental health, which in turn would have positive effects on the gut microbiome, forming a positive feedback loop. This would change healthcare by possibly increasing access to treatment of mental health for low income individuals, as access to drugs or therapists are very spendy. Furthermore, it would continue to legitimize the reality of mental health disorders as a serious health concern which requires treatment.