Exercise #15

If I were in charge of a funding agency, I would be looking for projects that help to further our knowledge on the affects of microbes within our bodies. One example of a project I would fund would be the research into the use of probiotics in treating microbial life within our guts. I think that if research is properly funded and done well that it can give us a lot of important data on the changes that everyday people can make to increase their health and decrease their risk of illness. Through this research we could explore how everyday foods decrease the risk of stomach ulcers, inflammation, and overall potentially decrease the risk of people developing gastric cancer due to those microbes. In decreasing illnesses, that would positively effect the amount of funding that is spent on healthcare and could be used for further research into other topics or simply used to improve our communities.

Exercise #14

My newer list of microbial influences on diseases:
Gastric Ulcers
Chron’s Disease
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
Diabetes Mellitus

The old list of microbial influences on diseases:
cystic fibrosis
diabetes mellitus
MS: multiple sclerosis
rheumatoid arthritis

In comparing the topics discussed in week 1 one to week 10, there has been a lot more knowledge that I have gained. Before I was honestly just trying to think of any type of illness that could be affected. After taking this class and reading so many different scientific articles about different diseases, I was easily able to come up with a lot of diseases. It was interesting that I was able to come up with the details that were discussed in these papers. In taking this course, I will take with me the in-depth knowledge of specific diseases. I also will take with me the awareness that the microbial world has on my current and future health. It is vastly important that people are aware of the influences that these microbes have.

Exercise #13

The five different questions that W.P. Hanage’s article states are really important to interpreting scientific literature, with the use of these questions people can become better at sorting through scientific information. It reminds the readers to not believe or initially believe everything that an article publishes; a lot of them are filled with hopeful statements and might not be presenting all of the necessary information. Below are the five questions also with why each is important when reading scientific literature.

  • Can Experiments detect differences that matter?
    From the treatment created, is it able to correctly identify a specific microbe or does it just target a broad range of microorganisms? You want to make sure that if there was a specific illness being caused that there is a specific treatment to cure it.
  • Does the study show causation or correlation?
    This question props people to think of whether this microbe is specifically causing an illness or whether there are other factors that are contributing to it (like diet) that are causing the illness. It wouldn’t make sense for a treatment to be created for a specific microbe is something else is actually causing the illness.
  • What is the mechanism?
    It is important that the mechanism used to the specific microbial species being studied. They are highly specific and does the treatment even evolve the right aspect to have an effect on the microbe. We want to be able to correctly pinpoint the best mechanism for treatment.
  • How much do experiments reflect reality?
    With this question, people can think about the logistics of an experiment. Would the propositions being presented make sense for the situation? It makes a person stop and consider whether or not this would actually solve a problem or whether it is another factor that is influencing the illness.
  • Could anything else explain the results?
    This question is very important in promoting further research to be done on any scientific topic. It also allows people to truly think about the proposition that the article is promoting to its audience. Does it make sense? It makes people think about the other influences that can be contributing to the specific topic.

In my opinion, the most important question to ask is the last one. Although they are all are helpful in creating a better ability to critique scientific literature, the last questions proposes more thorough thinking. Basically when asking if something else could be potentially creating these results, we are allowing others to further the research on this topic. If we assumed that the results were 100% correct, people would not feel inclined to come up with new experiments or design ideas that could be contributing to that topic. It would be assumed that that would be a waste of time.

Exercise #12


Microbial Influence on the Brain: Microbes are very useful for our body and can have many different properties that are good and bad for our health. As far as the brain, microbes create neuroactive compounds like neurotransmitters and metabolites that help with brain function. Messages from microbes within our gastrointestinal tracts can be carried through your vagus nerve. Without these key elements, our body wouldn’t be able to function as it normally does. Neurotransmitters send signals throughout your whole body and help with pretty much every function that you do.

Brain Influences Microbial Health: Many of the useful microbes that are inside our bodies reside within the gastrointestinal tract. The brain influences that tract along with the immune system, both of which influence the genetic makeup of the microbes. Damage to your brain can cause damage throughout your body including the microbial communities, they may be influenced if your brain’s ability to upkeep the gastrointestinal tract is altered.

Microbial Influence on Mental Health: Since microbes have been found to influence the health of your brain, it would make sense then that they would also have a direct influence your mental health as well. It is thought that when you have proper functioning and relationships with the microbial life and the brain, there are lower levels of depression. During pregnancy, it is found that the influence of microbes can cause people to be born with autism or schizophrenia. 

Mental Health on Microbial Life: Depending on the mental state of a person, can influence the item that they eat or the situations that they put themselves in. These environments can affect the microbial health that is within them. An example of this could be someone suffering from depression, in which they may have difficulty with performing daily tasks or feeling motivated to go and exercise. If they drastically increase in weight, this alters the ratio of specifics within their gastrointestinal tracts.

As with most influences on health, each aspect has a chance of promoting health or a chance of promoting disease. As far as brain influences, it controls the certain gastrointestinal environments within your body in which controls the types of microbial species and ratios that grow. These ratios can be beneficial to your body or they can be harmful. In return, the microbes within your body can influence your brain through the vagus nerve and immune responses. Mental health also has this type of relationship. Certain environments can create beneficial or harmful microbial life that can cause either good or bad effect. It forms these effects that people can be “normal” or not. Potentially having bad mental health can be harmful to one’s self by promoting negative influences on your body which in turn influences the microbial health. It seems that each has the potential to be beneficial or harmful.

Exercise #11

In reviewing other people’s writing, I was able to see other types of writing styles and how they set their pace of the paper. I found it to be difficult to give critiques on certain parts because I didn’t want to give the wrong information. An example of this would be the use of nonpeer-review sources. I am still struggling to understand which method is correct in citing them and I found that other people are just as confused as I am. Some people wrote them in ASM while others just didn’t include them at all. I found that it was tricking in giving advice that you yourself had a difficult time understanding.

Overall though, I really liked seeing other people’s work. I was able to see the strengths in their writing styles and I found myself being like “Oh I want to incorporate a sample like this or support like this in my paper.” It was also interesting to see the topics that they choose and how they are able to relate that to the real world overall health. I found myself really enjoying reading their papers and understanding how I would be able to rearrange my own to make the flow of the paperwork a lot better.

I was able to learn about different topics, which were good, but also some ways in which to better adjust my own paper. I was shown examples of strongly written introductions and some great use of explanations for their sources. I also want to go back and make sure that I have an explanation for the sources that I decided to pick. I was a really useful exercise and I think that it made me feel more confident in my abilities to write.

Exercise #10


In doing a scientific peer-review, it begins like any other peer-review of a paper. You have to thoroughly read and understand what is being presented to you, noting the transitions and language that is used compared to the audience at hand. After that, it differs from the normal review. Using scientific review persons are aimed at looking into the specific topic used and whether or not that topic was successfully established throughout the whole writing. You also look at whether or not the opposing topic is talked about and supported by evidence. It is important to not be completely biased with the paper that is being written but rather is able to acknowledge the counter-argument and use that to build a stronger case for yours.

With scientific writing, it is very important that the sources are appropriate for the topic at hand. You want to have sources that are peer reviewed and cited properly within and at the end of the paper. It is also a better argument provided if the sources vary in the type of articles (clinical trials, primary research, reviews) so that your discussion is widely supported.

Here are some pros and cons as to the influences of peer-review


  • Able to adjust and focus work
  • Able to obtain a second opinion of your topic and the relevance of your sources
  • You can miss the errors within your work
  • Able to get new ideas concerning a specific topic of choice


  • Bias in the response given
  • Incorrect information that can lead a person to adjust their paper and make it worse
  • Unable to add any relevant information to adjust the paper

Even with the risk of the cons related to peer-reviews, I think that is it really important that people have their papers reviewed. I think that it overall adds to the detail and accuracy of their work.

Exercise #9

It is really important for our bodies to be exposed to different types of microbes because it allows for our immune systems to advance their knowledge, which makes them more able to fight off harmful bacteria. It is when our immune system is not exposed that we can easily fall victim to a simple bacteria.

Human behaviors that contribute to the decreased exposure to microbes:

  • Formula feeding instead of using breast milk: With using formula, the infant isn’t exposed to the helpful microbes that are within the breast milk of their mothers. Breast milk is found to boost the immune systems of the babies that are drinking the milk and without it, there is a chance of not being exposed to that bacterium for further prevention of illness.
  • C-section birth: While this type of birth method may not be a choice for certain moms, it had become a widely used way to safely deliver a baby. Unfortunately, with the use of a C-section, infants are not exposed to the vaginal microbes that are within their mothers as they exit and therefore do not have them as babies. Although still being studied about the risk to the lack of exposure, it can be one influence on the exposure to microbial life
  • Constant use of antibiotics: Using antibiotics kills bacteria. Most of the antibiotics that are made do not specifically target just one type of bacteria but are designed to target a large variety of them. This is beneficial when trying to kill a harmful bacterium but it is also very bad for your body when it kills the microbial life that is good for your health.
  • Not going outside/ having a very sterile living space: Having a very sterile environment or not getting outside to experience the microbial life beyond your living space can be very bad. Without exposure, you will not have the necessary immune system to fight off the simple bacterium; it can actually cause you to become sicker easier. Although it may seem that limiting the types of exposure would be good, it turns out that it can have the opposite effect.

Exercise #7

Negative Influences on Microbial communities in Mother and Infant:

  • Preterm birth: This is when an infant if born before thirty-seven weeks. This can be very bad for the infant if it is born way before the due date because it will not have the viable expose to microbes that it needs in life. Preterm birth can be caused by the microbial communities within the vagina that stimulate your body to give birth(1). Usually, a healthy microbial life provides support for the vagina against inflammation, which causes labor.
  • Mother has gestational diabetes mellitus or gestational hypertension. These two factors play a huge role in the microbial life of the infant. This is because both of these factors can influence the delivery date of the baby. Not only could these increase the chances that the child is born too early (not getting the right types of microbial communities needed in the real world) but they hypertension also can become an issue for the baby(1). This increases the chance of the infant having a high BMI, which has an influence on the type of microbes that grow within their bodies.
  • Gestation Weight Gain: Although there is always an expected amount of weight gain with every pregnancy (roughly 20-35 lbs), the gaining of too much weight has the potential of causing negative outcomes on the infant(1). Large amounts of weight gain lead to higher rates of premature birth. Infants also have a higher chance of weight gain themselves, which alters the gut microbial health within their body systems.
  • Use of antibiotics during pregnancy: The purpose of antibiotics is to treat a bacterial infection. During pregnancy, this can negatively alter the infant’s microbial communities by killing bacteria that they need. This can lead to higher chances of asthma and type 1-diabetes(2).



  1. Corwin J, Dunlop A, Dunn A, Edwards S, Ferranti E, Mulle J. 2015. The Maternal Microbiome and Prganxy Outcomes that Impact Infant Health: A Review. Adv Netonatal Care. 15(6) 377-385
  2. Bakacs E, Combellick J, Domingeuz-Bello M, Grigoryan Z, Mueller N. 2014. The Infant microbiome Development: Mom Matters. Trends Mol Med. 21(2): 109-117.

Exercise #8

Free Write 1:

I really liked learning about the influences that microbes have on our intestinal tracks like the gut. I want to know more about the mother to child relationship because I would imagine that to be really interesting. I enjoyed reading about the different STDs that microbes produce in our bodies. I hope to one day to help people who are suffering from medical issues so just knowing what infections you can get from other people is really important. I want to learn more about the microbial influences on genetics like HIV. It is something that is really intriguing into me and I hope that one day there will be a cure. I want to know more about specifics regarding treatments for microbial life and the advancements in vaccinations for certain diseases (breakthroughs) such as HPV and herpes. I thought it was really cool learning about the different strains (cagA+ and cagA-) and the effect that it had in our guts.

Free Write 3: vaccinations for certain diseases (breakthroughs) such as HPV and herpes.

Different variations of the microbes, difficult to treat, takes a lot of time, always changing, can be vary dangerous (HPV), both are for life, untreatable, through sexual contact or sharing of bodily fluids (herpes), social stigma, easily transmitted, there is a vaccination for two HPV strains none for herpes, both are very very common in the public, intriguing, not a huge urgency to find a treatment for herpes but very important for HPV because it can cause cancer, deadly, causing rapid cellular growth within the cervix, 4 types represent 80% of cervical cases in women,

Free Write 4:

I surprisingly really enjoyed doing this free write. Normally I don’t take things like this very seriously and kind of brush them off when writing a paper but I think it would help me. My goal for writing my paper is to do a ton of research before siting down to write it. Once I have done a lot of research I want to sit down and do a free write. This will allow me to get out all of the information that I have so far for this topic. I also will be able to look at the statements I make and develop a plan for how I want to construct my paper. This exercise will help me to hopefully avoid the common writer’s block and come up with a successful and well-written paper.

Exercise #6

My personal philosophy about antibiotics is that one should only take them if they are necessary and have a prescription from a doctor. Antibiotics are very useful and we are very lucky for their discovery but they can also have very negative effects on our bodies if we are not careful with how we use them. I personally believe that one should not use antibiotics unless there are no other options, such as taking probiotics or other types of medications. If you are seriously sick or it is an urgent situation then, by all means, someone should use them to get better. Antibiotics should not be used in a case where someone has a sore throat and feels like it could potentially turn into strep throat. Instead of rushing to take something, you should be patient and wait to see if it isn’t just a simple cold. I also believe that you should take the full dose of medication that is prescribed to you to fully rid your body of the bacterial infection so that it doesn’t come back in a strong amount.

Thankfully in my life, I haven’t had to take a ton of antibiotics but I had a really stressful and bad experience with them recently. Last fall I was very sick and I kept going to the local Urgent Care to try and figure out what was going on. After each visit, they kept prescribing me a medication for strep throat, it wasn’t until a month and a half later did we find out that I actually had mono. This is why I think it is very important to not take medication unless you are 100% sure that you know what you are treating. It turns out that after each antibiotic (and steroid prescribed for my severe sore throat) my body was having a terrible reaction, which made the experience much worse.