Cell Symposium: Microbiome and Host Health

It is now well appreciated that more microbes than actual human cells exist in and on the human body and that these microbes represent a vastly higher number of genes and gene products than are encoded by the host. The microbiome, defined as the host-inhabiting microbes and their genes and genomes, is a complex system characterized by various microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions. These interactions influence various aspects of host physiology, and when in homeostasis, the microbiome contributes significantly to maintaining host health. However, both extrinsic factors (such as antibiotics) and intrinsic factors (such as host genetics) can cause perturbations to the system, leading to alterations in host physiology with potential adverse affects on host health.

This meeting aims to explore the composition, diversity, and dynamics of the microbiome; to examine the microbiome's influence on various aspects of host physiology; to understand the forces that perturb the microbiome-host balance; to outline the basis of diseases resulting from alterations to the microbiome; and, coming full circle, to discuss therapeutic approaches to how the host-microbiome balance, and thus host health, can be restored. The meeting will bring together researchers who have been delving into the microbial aspects of this system with researchers who study the host's physiology in health and disease, including infection, immunity, metabolism, and cancer.

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