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.

There has been many readings from this term that I have found to be worthy of funding. I have always been intrigued by mental health and I enjoy learning about it. With that being said, I would be excited about funding a research project that used probiotics and healthy eating to treat symptoms that come with mental health disorders. The gut-brain axis is a very complex structure that ties the gut microbiome to the brain; the gut can influence the brain and the brain can influence the gut microbiome. I would be interested in finding a way in which healthier eating and probiotics could create a better microbiome within the gut which would hopefully have positive influence on the mental health of individuals. This study would reduce the use of expensive pharmaceutical drugs and lean towards a more natural remedy that may be more affordable for individuals. Mental health is not necessarily at the forefront of medical innovations, so I would love to be apart of highlighting the importance and effect it has on people’s lives.


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.

Non-infectious diseases that are influenced by microorganisms include, autoimmune disorders, obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain and gastric cancer, ulcers, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, asthma, and Alzheimers.

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.

In the beginning of the course, we were asked to list non-infectious diseases that are influenced by microorganisms, and that was a struggle for me because I almost knew none. Previous knowledge that I had about microbiota was from my microbiology course and my immunology, but gut microbiota was not the focus especially in terms of the relationship to diseases. From what I have learned and experienced through this course, I now feel as if I have an understanding on how microbiota within the gut can have a powerful effect our health all throughout our body. The most important topic that I will take away after I complete this course is the the way in which I can promote my health through probiotics. In addition, I now have a new outlook on antibiotics and their effects to my health, and in the future I will limit my use of them.


Writing Exercise #13

Can experiments detect differences that matter?

This question is often used to challenged the results of a study, thus making sure that what was found, is correct, and can be duplicated by other researchers.

Does the study show causation or correlation?

Often times correlation is mistaken as causation, so that is why researchers use this question to distinguish between the two. An example that I learned in my statistics class was, high ice cream sales were correlated with warmer weather; however, ice cream sales do not cause the temperature to increase outside. Understanding the difference between correlation causation is very important, especially in terms of scientific literature because it is pertinent to know what variable is causing the result.

What is the mechanism?

Asking this questions allows for the reader to have a better idea on how the study was conducted and what possible outside influence may have had a hand in the results. Often times, knowing methods of the research allow for the read to interpret whether or not the literature shows correlation versus causation.

How much do experiments reflect reality?

This questions puts the literature into real life. In other words it asks, how does this relate to readers or everyday life? For example, due to ethics, many studies can’t be done on humans, rather they are done on animals. With that being said, not all results that were produced from a study done on an animal could be applied to humans or their health.

Could anything else explain the results?

Again, this questions brings up the argument of correlation versus causation. This question explores whether or not there are any other variables that caused the result, other than the ”expected” cause.

Which is most helpful when discussing controversy

I believe the most helpful question when discussing controversy is “does the study show causation or correlation?” I think this question is the most helpful because it challenges the results and validity of a study. If the results show causation, it is a much stronger argument than if the results showed correlation.


Writing Exercise #12

Microbes are linked to mental health through the gut-brain axis. The gut is linked to the brain by many nerves and neurons. Interestingly enough, the gut is known as the “second brain” because of its neurological capabilities. When microbes enter the stomach, cytokines and neurotransmitter precursors get released and have the ability to control the brain by moving through the gut-brain axis. For example, a study finds that when animals are germ-free (which causes a missing gut microbiome), there shows to be abnormalities in brain development.

Once again through the gut-brain access, hormones, neurotransmitters, and steroid production can affect the gut microbiome.The hormone norepinephrine is often released when someone is experiencing stress, and it can cause the equilibrium within the gut to become off balanced.

The relationship between the gut and brain can cause many changes to the health of an individual. Improving mental health will benefit gut health, and good gut health will benefit mental health. Overall, it would be beneficial to focus on the health of the gut-brain axis in order to encourage one’s health and to lower the risk for diseases associated with gut.


Writing Exercise #11

I have been apart of a few peer reviewing processes, but I have never been apart of helping peers edit scientific work. With that being said, I found the process to be helpful. It made me think abo0ut my own paper as I was writing and learning from my peers mistakes and from the positives of their papers. I did feel slightly uncomfortable giving my suggestions, but it is a good quality to learn because it helps make my peers work improve and it sharpens my eye for mistakes in my own work. Something that I learned and that I will take away is having some else read my paper to me out loud, and read my own paper out loud to ensure that my writing makes sense and flows together. Having my peers look over my paper gave me the chance to correct mistakes that I may not have caught on my own. I plan to take my peer’s suggestions seriously and start applying those corrections sooner rather than later. By doing this, it will allow me to see how my thoughts and their suggestions flow with one another, thus allowing me to make any last minute alterations. Lastly, the peer review document gave me a new outlook on my own paper that I am going to use when re-reading my work.


Writing Exercise #10

Peer reviewing is a crucial step that allows scientific articles to have credibility, and it gives the reader comfortability that what they are reading is factual. In terms of what peer reviewing does for the researcher/writer is that it allows for them to have feedback on where their information may not be understandable to their audience. It gives the writer a new perspective on how their audience may be receiving their work. The process of peer reviewing should be done by multiple highly accredited individuals that have more experience in the field than that of the writer.

The pros of peer reviewing is the feedback that the writer receives prior to releasing their work. As mentioned above, peer reviewing allows for a new perspective of the paper, thus allowing for mistakes to me caught that may have been brushed over by the writer. Overall, it keeps the writer accountable for their information and quality of their article.

The cons of peer reviewing is that it adds to the process of publication. In addition to this, a peer reviewer must be an expert within the field that the article based on, and some fields may not have many individuals available for reviewing.


Writing Exercise #9

Human behaviors that contribute to decreased exposure to microbes:

Method of Birthing: Vaganal births expose infants to more bacteria within the vaginal canal compared to a cesarean birth

Use of Antibiotics: Antibiotics are non-specific and target all bacteria, even the good bacteria.

Cleaning/Sanitation: Kill off bacteria in areas that people touch, thus creating less exposure to microbes.

Hand Sanitization: Soap and hand sanitizers eliminate/decreases microbe presence,

Small Social Circle: If an individual is not surrounded by many people such as siblings or people then it limits their exposure to different microbes.

Time Spent Outside: Being in the outdoors, increases the exposure to microbes, especially in dirt. Therefore, if a person doesn’t go outside much and spends more time inside, it decreases their exposure to microbes.


Writing Exercise #8

This course has taught me many interesting things regarding the microbiome that exists within all human. A certain matter that really stood out to me was how a person’s diet can affect their microbiome. I recall reading about the study that pertained to Crohn’s Disease and how a healthier diet decreased some of the symptoms associated with the disease. With there being so many different versions of diets in today’s world, I wonder how the keto diet would have effect our microbiomes; I am curious if it would improve it or create an issue in our equilibrium.

Keto diets consist of high fats and proteins with a very low amount of carbohydrates and almost no sugar. This has been proven to be a beneficial way to lose weight, but I would suspect that increasing the amount of fat consumption and eliminating sugar carriers such as berries and other fruits would have a negative effect on the gut microbiome. With that being said, I know a few people who use the keto diet and who have autoimmune diseases. It would interesting to look at whether or not this diet aids in any sort of immune function.

To begin developing this paper, I may speak to some of those individuals I mentioned about why they chose that diet and if they have felt a difference in terms of their immune system. Most importantly, I would find research article that are about the keto diet and how it affects the gut microbiome. After I have gathered all necessary information and a better understanding, I will begin an outline.


Writing Exercise #7

Potential factors that the mother or the infant could be exposed to that could influence the colonization of the microbial community in the newborn infant:

Delivery and feeding technique: Infants who are born through the vaginal canal compared to being born through a cesarean section, encounter a variety of bacteria that lies within the canal. A technique that has been done during delivery to expose infants who are born through a cesarean section to bacteria is by collecting the bacteria within the vaginal canal of the mother and spread it onto the newborn child. In addition to this, newborns also experience bacteria through formula feeding or breastfeeding. The type of bacteria’s the infant is exposed to varies between feeding techniques which the colonize of the infant.

Bacteria present in amniotic fluid: Infants who are not yet born encounter bacteria that exists within the amniotic fluid. However, there is no substantial evidence that a microbiome is formed within the placenta.

Smoking: Women who partake in smoking expose their child to serious health risks such as being born prematurely, effects to facial features, issues in development such as the adult microbiota.

Exposure to Antibiotics: Due to the fact that antibiotics are non-specific, meaning they function to destroy all forms of bacteria, they can cause harm to the development of microbiomes. Therefore, when a mother or an infant is exposed to antibiotics, it can cause dysbiosis.


Writing Exercise #6

When being prescribed antibiotics in the past, I honestly did not think much about what I was taking and how it would affect my body. Normally I would be prescribed antibiotics by a doctor or physician assistant in urgent after going in with flu like symptoms. My primary physician has prescribed me antibiotics many times before when I had an appointment regarding flu like symptoms as well. In both cases of doctor visits, I never have thought to talk about why this treatment is being prescribed to me and what the percussions may be. Since becoming more educated about the gut microbiome, I think I would have asked for other ways in which I could treatment my illness. I do have an autoimmune disease, so antibiotics can help with flair ups or enhanced symptoms but I would choose alternating taking antibiotics and another alternative the next time I got sick. I do think that antibiotics are beneficial, but it is always important to let your body try and fight infection on its own or use another treatment method to deter infection.