Writing Exercise #15

This writing exercise prompt is a hard one and I have a hard time choosing what research projects I would award funding to. Out of my own curiosity and connection to mental health, I would love to see more research on the links between the gut microbiome and mental health and disorders. I think it would be fascinating to discover possible short-term and long-term treatments that help address mental health and what that would actually look like. I also would be more interested in funding research focusing on the microbiome and obesity. Because the United States has a high prevalence of obesity, I think research in this area would be very valuable in the prevention and could possibly impact and help many, many people. Obesity is a public health concern and is also linked to various diseases impacted by the gut microbiome. Both projects could really have an impact on healthcare in treating those with these specific diseases.

Writing Exercise #14

Asthma, diabetes, obesity, stomach cancer, dysbiosis, Chron’s disease, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, IBD, ulcers, colon cancer, variety of cancers, diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease

Most of the diseases I listed in this exercise are the same as the first writing exercise post. However, this time I did include mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. I also became more specific in the types of disease. The readings from this class discussed a variety of body systems and diseases impacted by our gut microbiome and really opened my eyes to the links that medicine is still searching for. The class also heavily emphasized how large a role the gut microbiome has on the overall health of an individual and made me look at the bigger picture of investigating diseases. Moving forward, I hope to stay up to date on the research regarding mental health and microbiomes due to my own experience with depression and anxiety. If I ever work in medical care, I also want to have a broader view when addressing disease and provide several options that a patient can have access to treat symptoms, instead of focusing solely on one medication or one cause. I currently work for Deschutes County as a public information officer support and while I don’t have the power to create postings about the gut microbiome, I could possibly speak more about it with my supervisor when we hold health information sessions. I mainly deal with information regarding COVID but hopefully, I can take a broader approach to how it impacts the body and as a county what we can do to help those struggling with the after-effects of COVID.

Writing Exercise #13

  • Can experiments detect differences that matter?
  • Does the study show causation or correlation?
  • What is the mechanism?
  • How much do experiments reflect reality?
  • Could anything else explain the results?

Explain the significance that each of these questions have on interpreting scientific literature. Which is most helpful when discussing controversy, and why?

The research questions provided in this prompt help researchers interpret scientific data by separating and determining different factors that influence the results. By critically questioning the experiment design and results, the data can be thoroughly explained to show data importance. Causation and correlation is an important question as it lets researchers determine if the study or certain variable was the cause of such a result. This is important in determining the cause effect relationship and observations of the study. Out of the questions provided, I believe this to be the most significant question to ask and it lets scientists determine how to use these results. If the results are causation or correlation, different actions can be done as result of these findings.

Writing Exercise #12

The gut microbiome houses trillions of microorganisms that impact the various body systems in ways researchers are still trying to unlock, including the brain and mental health states. Research currently shows that mood, pain, hormones, stress, sleep, etc. impact the gut microbiome in a variety of ways. But more research is needed to determine the 2 way relationship between the brain and gut microbiome and what impact the gut microbiome has on the brain and mental health states. Disruptions of the gut microbiome influence gene expression and in turn development of mental health disease. The stress hormone, cortisol, may also directly impact our microbiome by causing changes in blood sugar level and appetite. The relationship between the gut microbiome and brain impacts the other and may have a positive or negative effect on the other.

Writing Exercise #10

Peer reviewing an article is the process of evaluating an article by a select number of experts before being published. It is an important part of publishing scientific articles because it validates and verifies the accuracy of the information presented to ensure data integrity.


  • Establishes validity and verification of information presented.
  • Allows for expert analysis.
  • Allows for improvement of the article prior to publication.
  • Establishes a standard of scientific information.


  • Time delay between research and publication.
  • Time, resources, manpower to conduct.
  • Difficult to keep peer reviewers anonymous.
  • Bias among peer reviewers.

Writing Exercise #9

  • Genetics –  An individual’s gut microbiota is partly determined by genetics and may impact the influence of diets.
  • Diet – Dietary habits modify the composition of the gut microbiota but effects vary depending on the type, length, quality, and diversity of the diet.
  • Antibiotics – Antibiotic treatment impacts both pathogenic and beneficial microbiota in our gut which impacts the diversity and composition.
  • Natural environment – Exposure to microbial diversity in urban v. rural settings, outdoors, parks/green areas, air, home.
  • Early life –  Exposure to microbiota during the perinatal period and early infancy has important effects on the developing immune system and health later in life. 
    • Delivery mode
    • Lactation/weaning period
    • Feedings
    • Environment
  • Later life – Diet, general environment, and lifestyle can influence the microbiota and health throughout life.

Writing Exercise #8

Some of the most interesting things I have learned thus far in this class are the gut microbiome and its impact on the health of the individual. The various ways that the gut microbiome could influence different diseases that I initially thought had no connection to the gut was very surprising. My level of understanding stemmed from my immunology class and its impact on allergies but I didn’t realize how influential it could be on asthma, various cancers, and obesity. Other anatomy or physiology classes consisted of memorization and not of connection. Bringing together the molecular processes, physiology, and research of the microbiome has really strengthened my knowledge and connections to health. Disease states and dysbiosis was another interesting finding in this course and how the gut microbiome can impact disease risks both negatively and positively. Both my parents also have underlying diseases and diet has been a big factor in managing their symptoms and health but I never questioned why or how.

Growing up, my father had type 2 diabetes and was a very stubborn man. While his physician would prescribe him medications to manage symptoms or illness, my father would base taking his medications on how he felt. He would generally eat a well-balanced diet and then use how he felt to determine what medications or if he would take any medications at all. Different types of food also influenced flare-ups of my mother’s RA. She noticed meat, certain seafood in combination with hot weather would trigger swelling and flare-ups. I grew up with this knowledge and thought it was a common occurrence with others who experienced similar diseases. My partner also was diagnosed with RA when he was 21 years old. Over time, noticed a correlation between eating red meat and swelling. He has since limited his intake of red meat and noticed a significant difference. He also has a family friend who does research at OHSU and suggested that something he ate while in the Philippines triggered his RA to develop.

When preparing for the final paper, I will most likely use this free-write exercise as a source of inspiration and just word vomit onto a piece of paper. I will go through last week’s material and will try to write everything down that I can come with for a paper topic, reflect on my ideas, and then select one idea that I want to expand. From there, I could again word vomit and expand on one specific idea I selected and use that to start my initial research. I will then use specific library scholarly websites to search for articles and expand on my idea.

Writing Exercise #7

  • Lactation period – Breast milk contains bacteria that will colonize in the infant’s gut. Also contains maternal milk factors that affect bacterial growth and metabolism such as human milk oligosaccharides, secretory IgA, and anti-microbial factors.
  • Weaning period and the introduction of solid foods – Solid foods introduce a variety of bacteria and will diversify their microbiome.
  • The delivery mode of the infant – Vaginal versus cesarean births influences the infant’s initial exposure to microbial communities.
  • Breast milk or formula feedings – Breast milk provides antibodies that help the infant fight illness while the formula may provide the infant with a larger quantity of minerals and key nutrients impacting the gut microbiome.
  • Maternal diet, health, treatment before and during pregnancy – Maternal body composition, nutritional stores, and diet determine nutrient availability for the fetus. Fatigue has been reported to influence the production of breast milk.
  • Maternal use of antibiotics – Antibiotics can influence breast milk and in turn, the infant’s gut microbiota by modifying gut defenses and may have dose-related effects on the infant.
  • Infant environment – From delivery, place of residence, to who cares for the infant impact availability to nutrients and microbial communities.

Writing Exercise #6

As a child, I have been prescribed antibiotics for severe cough or some sort of infection. I have asthma and am anemic which has caused me to become more susceptible to illness and infection. Growing up, I didn’t have a say in what treatments I would undergo or what medications I would take because my parents would follow the directions of my pediatrician. Now as an adult and after taking several microbiology and health courses, I would take antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection and what bacteria was causing illness. Thankfully, I have not suffered from a severe illness in the couple years but I also trust the judgement of our family doctors. My family has been patients at OHSU for over 15 years and we have worked with our physician for over 10 years. Trust in the hospital and in our physician has absolutely shaped my opinion in when I should or would take antibiotics. 

Writing Exercise #5

Growing up, food/product/nutrition use and consumption were mostly dictated by my environment, especially my parents. As a child, I did not have a say in what foods I could eat at home or what was added to the grocery list. My father was a big proponent of eating nutritious meals as he and my mother had underlying medical conditions and used diet to manage them. My father had type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, while my mother has rheumatoid arthritis. My father loved to cook and every morning would provide a filling but healthy breakfast and delicious well-balanced meals for dinner. School lunch was another environmental factor I did not have control over as a child. I could choose either pizza or tots, milk or juice, cookie or not, and school food was determined by where I lived. But a majority of what I ate contained a range of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals which definitely improved gut barrier, health, and immunity.

As I grew older in high school, college, and now as a working adult, I’ve had more control over my choices in what I eat and how they impact my microbiome. While the environment of where I live, where I go to school, and my own background of my socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc. will impact what food choices I have and make, I still can choose for myself what I will buy from the grocery store. As my partner is a health-conscious person and leads a very active lifestyle, he prefers home-cooked vegetarian meals and has influenced me to consistently eat a well-balanced diet. When I lived in Corvallis, I was surrounded by my friends who lived near me. Our diets consisted of Rivas, Panda Express, and group dinners we cooked together. We are mostly Filipino and cooked Filipino meals but they are not well balanced. Due to my social environment, the physical environment, and personal stress, processed fast food was the easier option for me as a college student.