(Or every field needs a good dose of healthy skepticism!)

In 2013, experts of the emerging human microbiome field gathered at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH-sponsored conference entitled “Human Microbiome Science: Vision for the Future” highlighted both the successes and challenges of the microbiome field. Speakers noted that “A challenge in microbiome research is to move beyond identification of microbiota community structures that correlate with disease states to establishing a causal link between structural changes and the functions of microbiota in disease.” The “hype” of correlation studies, especially ‘hot topic research’ will always remain. Scientists need to be cautious when interpreting their results and presenting results to the public. In a 2014 Nature Comment, William Hanage lists five questions that microbiome researchers should ask when planning an experiment. I think these five questions also serve as a solid framework for readers (that’s us!) when examining microbiome research. I’ve listed the the questions below. For a more detailed read, check out the link to Hanage’s article.

  1. Can experiments detect differences that matter?
  2.  Does the study show causation or just correlation?
  3. What is the mechanism?
  4. How much do experiments reflect reality?
  5. Could anything else explain the results?

Lastly, I have to share with you this awesome article. Did you know that the microbiome totally caused the financial crisis in 2008!! What??! #Microbiomehype #SEC_NIHworkingtogetheratlast #BewaretheBacoTell


Thanks to NM for sharing, and great job EB representing at the NIH!


Human Microbiome Science: Vision for the Future Report:

Hanage’s Article: 

Financial Crisis and the Microbiome:

By KCBauer

Hello! My name is KCBauer and I am a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. I am a researcher, writer, musician, and explorer. Originally from Washington DC, I graduated with a BA in Music and BS in Biology in 2014. This blog focuses on the gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms that reside along the digestive tract. My grad research at UBC examines the role of the gut microbiota on human health, brain development, and anthropology. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy ambling through Vancity, listening to music, reading science journals, and hiking. If you have questions, ideas for blog topics, suggestions for place to visit in BC, or corrections send me an email at

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