Writing Exercise #15

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.

I would propose something that would effect a large group of individuals and may be seen as a common need of most individuals. When thinking of this alone, I think of the effects of probiotics and antibiotics on human health and the microbes. I think everyone at least once in there life will need or take some type of medication in which they should have access to along with all the information including when and how you should be taking these probiotics. We have learned how they effect our health and can combat other negative effects of microbes which can be very important. This should be accessible to everyone and we should learn the effects on different groups of people, because as we have seen in previous articles, the samples are very small and are usually based on one demographic.


Writing Exercise #14

Part 1: Set a timer for 3 minutes, and make a list of as many human non-infectious diseases that you can think of that are influenced by microorganisms.

Asthma, Alzheimer’s, gastric cancer, brain cancer, PD, heartburn, pancreatitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, crohn’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease autoimmune disorder, ulcers.

Part 2: Refer back to your Writing Exercise #1 that you completed the first week of class. Reflect and discuss how your responses have changed from week 1 to week 10, and what the most important topics you will take away with you once you have completed the course.

Looking back at my first post I think I listed three total, and that was probably after looking them up first. I have learned so much especially about the gut microbiome which I know I can take a lot of that information with me. I’ll also remember the different good and bad microbes and how they effect human health. When I previously thought of microbes I thought that was an all around bad term that only caused negative effects, and have learned a lot since then.


Writing Exercise #13

In W. P. Hanage’s article, he discusses the importance of five key questions when interpreting scientific literature:

  • 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?

Starting with describing the significance of each and then which one is most helpful when discussing controversy.

The first question is important when looking for finer distinctions which technology today allows us to do. This is really important to closely related genes. Next we look at causation and correlation. This is important when looking at different factors and connections with microbiomes. Mechanism is going further than just looking at the causal relationship by determining the factors with multiple experiments. The experiments question looks at how symptoms may effect actual ill people rather than things that may just come up in an experiment. The last question is important because everybody is so different. This could take in to account diet, disease, etc.

When discussing controversy, I think the last question is most important. This is because usually when there are different views or opinions you use evidence to back yourself up. Sometimes the evidence can be different depending on the sample or technique used which is why asking what else could explain the results may help to clear something up.


Writing Exercise #12

This weeks prompt was to “Describe how microbial communities in the body could influence brain and mental health states. Then, describe how brain and mental health states could influence microbial communities in the body. In what ways might these promote health and/or disease?”

First, looking at microbial communities and mental health states, we see in the Lecture 9a notes Dysbiosis is when there is overgrowth and promotes loss of the intestinal barrier. This is known as a leaky gut and can cause abnormal behavior, stress, and visceral pain.

We also know that there are many gut and brain connections, so it’s easy for one thing to effect another. There are neurotransmitters produced by microbes, and the gut is also known as the second brain. This could easily promote either health or disease depending on the health of the gut and brain since they are connected. In past lectures we have talked about how to keep the gut “healthy” therefore I would assume the Brian would stay relatively healthy when considering the microbes.


Writing Exercise #11

This week we peer-reviewed two other students papers. I think it was cool to read others papers and suggest ideas. It is hard because it’s only a draft and I didn’t want to point out obvious things that I knew they would fix for the final copy. Overall I wanted to give useful suggestions that they could use and would benefit their writing. It’s always better to write what you think could help, rather than just saying “good job” From filling out the peer-review worksheet, I thought of questions I could ask myself to help better my own paper, as well as making sure to re-read my own and making sure it was appropriate for the audience and something that was easy to understand and read.


Writing Exercise #10

When thinking about the process of peer reviewing, I immediately think about evaluating someones writing that is in the same field as you. For example if I write about microbiology, someone with microbiology experience could review my paper to make sure it is accurate and credible.

Some pros of peer review are getting more opinions on your wiring, making sure it looks good to be published, and is more credible when others are reading it. Some cons that go along with peer review, are multiple ideas, or conflicting statements being made with one another. It may lead someone to second guess themselves or change something that was previously better. Peer reviews are usually done by more than one person in the same field which is good but it’s also hard to identify how useful their ideas are, or even how credible that one person may be to to give help to others. Lastly this process takes more time and the paper may not be published as fast.


Writing Exercise #9

This week we were tasked with describing as many human behaviors as we could that contribute to the decreased exposure of to microbes.

This week I thought it was interesting to read some of the exposures as an infant growing up that may decrease exposure to microbes which were:

Born via c-section

Formula Fed

Exposed to antibiotics

Lived in rural area with limited pollutants

Low exposure to dirt/germs

Born on time / as expected

Living in a home with high sanitation (dish-washer/cleaning)

No pets

No siblings


All of these are examples of things that can decrease exposure to microbes which overall means you live in a very controlled area, and you wouldn’t think of it as having very many “germs”.


Writing Exercise #8

So far we have learned a lot of interesting things, but what has stood out to me the most as been the impact of gut microbiome on our health. It was really cool to learn about different types and some that have positive or negative effects on your body. I think we gave focused a lot on the gut since the microbial community is so large and overall has a huge affect on our body on things such as good health and also the cause to different diseases. Then we can go into things that can improve your microbial communities which are things like probiotics or antibiotics. There are everyday things we do that change our microbes and community which I had never really thought about too much other than thinks like eating good promoted a better health.

What I found from my previous free-write to be interesting was the different types of microbiota that can influence our gut in positive and negative ways. This reminds me of one of the articles we read about finding a way to possible remove all the negative microbes and keeping the ones that can benefit us. I could also talk about the ways that we can purposely change our get communities by diets as well as different supplements, whether this be positive or negative.

In order to prep for my final paper, I think I want to go back through some of the past articles we read to get a better understanding on the topics that interest me. I could also do a longer free write by myself to get more ideas in the open so I might think of something else later that I really want to talk about or a different topic all together that is more interesting to me.


Writing Exercise #7

This week we are looking at potential factors that the mother or infant could be exposed to, to influence colonization of the microbial community in the newborn infant.

Starting with some negative influences, during pregnancy the mother could be smoking, have weight gain, exposure to antibiotics, or have bacteria in amniotic fluid. These are all things that influence the mothers microbial community but will then effect the infant. Some infant exposure includes; intensive care at birth, antibiotics, high-fat mother’s milk, weight, and feeding methods.

Weight gain is common and alters the microbial community as pregnancy time increases. There is also an increase of oral, placental, gut and vaginal microbiota. Overall, as time increases so does the microbial community in infants.

Source: Lecture 6B BHS 323 notes


Writing Exercise #6

This prompt focuses on when/would you take antibiotics. Antibiotics should be used to help treat a bacterial infection and not a viral infection like the flu, cold, etc. You should only take antibiotics when you really need so your immune system stays strong and you don’t want your body to “get use to” it or create a resistance so it won’t have the same effect when you really do need to use it. Examples of times where you could take antibiotics are; severe acne/rosacea, an ear infection, bronchitis, STI’s, UTI’s, etc. What shaped my personal philosophy has been listening to my parents growing up about what types of medications are for what, as well as going to doctors, and dermatologist for my severe acne growing up.