BME Seminar Series (Zoom): In Vivo and In Vitro Models to Challenge Assumptions About the Human Gut Microbiome

Zoom (link below)
Ana Porras, Ph.D.

Zoom: Password: 239488

Abstract: In the last 15 years, the human gut microbiome has been linked with a wide variety of diseases. Nonetheless, there is still much to be learned about the specific mechanisms through which microorganisms regulate host health. Engineers are well positioned to develop platforms that advance microbiome science. In this talk, I will summarize two projects that challenge our current understanding of human-microbe interactions. First, I will describe the use of humanized germ-free animal models to examine the role of geographic diversity on microbiota composition and susceptibility to infection. Next, I will highlight recent work exploring the ability of commensal bacteria to degrade components of human extracellular matrix in the gut. Both projects have important implications for the interpretation of existing findings and the future design of microbiome-based therapeutic strategies. They also highlight the importance of diverse participants and perspectives to achieve broader-reaching biological conclusions in the field.

Bio: Ana Maria Porras is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida, where she leads the Tissue-Microbe Interactions lab. Her group engineers in vitro models of disease to study human-microbe interactions in the contexts of the microbiome, global health and infectious disease. Prior to arriving in Florida, Porras was a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University and an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellow at UW-Madison, where she obtained her Ph.D. She is also the co-founder of the Latinx in BME community, a science artist and expert on inclusive multilingual science communication.