Fascination Sciences: the legions of organisms within you


Professor David Relman will give his talk on the organisms within us all.


Your body is full of microbes and viruses that affect your everyday health and understanding that world will be the focus of the eighth instalment of a free lecture series at Massey University.

Stanford University School of Medicine’s Professor David Relman will give his talk ‘The secret lives of your microbial companions: the human microbiome in health and disease’ as part of the Fascination Sciences lecture series on the University’s Albany campus.

Professor Relman is an early pioneer in the modern study of the human indigenous microbial world, who studies the nature of human-microbe relationships. He has also advised various organizations and agencies on emerging infectious diseases, human-microbe interactions, and future biological threats, including the United States Government.

In his talk, he will explore the diversity and intimacy of our relationships with the microbes and viruses that live in and on our body.

Looking at recent findings which raise questions about how these relationships get started early in life, the ways in which they contribute to human health, and how these relationships are maintained in the face of disturbance, especially the major disturbances produced by modern health care and lifestyle.

Professor Relman says, “now that we more fully appreciate how important our indigenous microbes are for our health, we need to become much smarter about who they are, what they are doing, how we can avoid harming them, and how to restore them-much the same way that a park ranger takes responsibility for maintaining their natural park.

“Our goal is to arrive at a predictive understanding of the microbiome and the mechanisms that underlie resilience. Another goal is to develop well-informed strategies for manipulating the microbiome that will allow us to maintain or restore health, and avoid or lessen disease.”

Professor Relman is in New Zealand on a Massey Distinguished Visitors grant to speak at the 27th Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting, part of Queenstown Research Week, New Zealand’s biggest annual scientific gathering. Dr Heather Hendrickson, of the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, is a conveyer this year, with a number of Massey staff involved.

Professor David Relman.


Lecture details

The microbiome: how the legions of organisms within you are affecting your health 

Friday, September 1, 7.00 - 8.30pm, Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatres, Massey University Auckland Campus, Albany.

For more information or to register to attend, go to http://massey.ac.nz/fascination-science

About Professor Relman

Professor Relman is the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor in Medicine, and in Microbiology & Immunology, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He is also Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California.

His research focus is the human indigenous microbiota, and the identification of previously-unrecognised microbial agents of disease. 

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