(Time for a Book Review: Or part of the reason why this blog exists)
My interest in microbiome research stemmed from an ecology class that was definitely more ecosystem-based than human-oriented. My professor, an avid reader and researcher, often suggested articles/books pertaining to the course material and our diverse professional interests (pre-dent, pre-med, teaching, research, physical therapy, nutrition!). One recommendation was Dr. Rob Dunn’s The Wild Life of Our Bodies. In WLOB, Dunn notes our integral and inseparable connection with the gut microbes that reside on and within our bodies. Indeed, the ever-increasing separation from our microbial communities (extreme ‘clean living’) may contribute to heightened susceptibility to allergic and autoimmune diseases-the hygiene hypothesis concept.
I read about a young Navy technician who performed an appendectomy in a submarine during WW2 using floss and tea strainers. And I discovered the important role of the appendix in maintaining a thriving gut microbiota. I learned about the history of germ-free animals. And I read about how microbes shape the human immune system. I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about these beneficial gut microbes. The next year I applied for a summer internship studying the gut microbiota. Spending two months examining the impact of diet and antibiotics on the gut microbiota further cemented my interest in microbiology and decision to pursue graduate studies.
If you are interested in the importance of the gut microbiota and enjoy medical case studies, I would highly recommend Dunn’s book, but warning, you might become a microbiologist! PS-Dunn’s Lab at the University of North Carolina has published some exciting microbial research. If you are interested in the belly button microbiome or microbes in household dust-check out the link to the Dunn Lab website below!
(Shout out to JH, PT, RC, and CM!)