To get a better understanding of the microbiome, research needs to be done around the world and not just among the populations of wealthy developed countries. Toward this end, we included a uBiome Philanthropist Level among the choices for those who supported us during our crowdfunding campaign.
For everyone who contributed at the uBiome Philanthropist Level, we sent a kit to a class at Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU) in collaboration with Dr. Chaz Langelier. Dr. Langelier taught a class on the microbiome and set up a research project with the medical students there. We provided the kits as well as some of his travel costs to help out with the project.
Here’s his update on what happened next…
An update from Tanzania
The microbiome short course was a success! We had close to 100 medical and bioscience students from HKMU University attend as well as faculty. I appreciate the hospitality of Dr. Mwaikambo and the faculty/staff at HKMU
We held 5 hours of lectures over two days, plus more one on one interactive Q & A and teaching sessions. Many people felt that this brought an exciting addition to medical education for HKMU and allowed for discussion and thoughtfulness on an important and rapidly evolving area of human health research.
Understanding the microbiome really holds great promise for addressing a number of key diseases that significantly impact East Africa. Topics covered included:
a brief review of basic medical microbiology and ecology,
a survey of contemporary research on the microbes inhabiting the human gut, skin, oropharynx, genitourinary tract and the nose,
the microbiome and its role in health and disease was a main focus of the course, and particular topics discussed included severe malnutrition and kwashiorkor, antibiotics and their effect on endogenous human microbiota, obesity, atherosclerosis and antibiotic-resistant chronic diarrhea.
concepts of gene transfer, antibiotic resistance and immune tolerance were discussed as well as recent studies on fecal transplant and probiotics for disease treatment.
next generation DNA sequencing as a means for understanding the microbiome.
Finally, students were given an opportunity to participate in an interactive laboratory session to allow sampling of their gut microbiomes by utilizing sequencing kits donated by uBiome. A follow up interpretive and discussion lecture will be held either as a pre-recorded presentation and sent electronically, or held in person during a return visit.
A small group of students with a strong interest in medical research are working with their microbiology professor to compile the results from the class and describe their results in a statistical and comparative format as a scientific manuscript if they choose.
It is our hope that this short course and laboratory session sparked interest, enthusiasm and excitement for medical research in microbiology and helped to enhance the scientific capacity of a leading medical university in East Africa.
We plan to provide more opportunities for academics and scientists around the world to study the microbiome. If you would like to join our efforts, check out our philanthropy kits here.