UA SRP Director Organizes Earth Microbiome and Human Health Session at NCSE Conference

On January 24-26, 2017, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) held its 17th National Conference and Global Forum: Integrating Environment and Health, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City near Washington, DC. The conference addressed the critical, interconnected issues of environment and health and how to improve the health and well-being of people and the planet.

UA SRP Director Raina Maier and UA Associate Vice President of Global Research Alliances Randy Burd organized and moderated a session entitled: “Earth Microbiome and Human Health”.

This symposium brought together leaders from two fields: 1) human disease-environment interactions and 2) earth microbiome ecology and evolution to envision integrated research and policy decisions to improve human health. Participating were Dr. Martha Carlin, CEO of The BioCollective, Dr. Jack Gilbert, Professor of Surgery and Director of The Microbiome Center, Dr. Janet Jansson, Chief Scientist for Biology, Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, University of Chicago, and Dr. Fernando Martinez, UA Regents' Professor and Director of the Asthma & Airway Disease Research Center.

The panel discussed ways to better predict the outcomes of a warming climate on the earth microbiome to protect our food/water supplies and prevent disease. The panel also discussed the research investments and the policy decisions that need to be made to mitigate the impact of the environmental changes on the earth microbiome in relation to human health. There was lively interaction and questioning from audience members during the session – this topic was clearly of interest to a wide variety of scientists.