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10/9/2018 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
We welcome Dr. Ashu Mangalam, an Assistant Professor of Pathology at University of Iowa Health Care, who will share information about gut microbiome during today's Science Cafe discussion. His long list of credentials includes a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

We have trillions of tiny bugs (gut microbiota) living in our tummy which play a key role in overall well-being. Human evolution is nutrition centric, and we have evolved with these tiny bugs over millions of years as they helped us to harvest more energy from food.

In addition to helping with food digestion, current research suggests we have outsourced other physiological processes to gut microbiota: Immune system training, regulation of hormones, etc. Gut bacteria regulate these processes by producing small chemicals called “metabolite” after food is digested. Thus a well-balanced gut microbiota can keep us healthy.

However, a number of factors may cause alterations in gut microbiota leading to depletion of good bugs and enrichment of bad bugs: Chlorination of water, urban living (moving away from dirt), certain food habits, increased use of chemicals in daily life, increased use of antibiotics, etc. Altered gut microbiota (dysbiosis) may be one reason for increased allergic and autoimmune diseases in the developed world.

Dr. Mangalam will share information from a recent study showing that multiple sclerosis patients had distinct gut bacteria. Gut dysbiosis may predispose an individual to develop inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, colitis etc. He will discuss how gut bacteria might be keeping us healthy, and steps to take for a healthy gut.

Dr. Mangalam is currently engaged in research to develop better treatment options to cure multiple sclerosis (MS). To achieve that goal, his research program focuses on three interconnected themes:

1. Understanding the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis
2. Understanding the role of gut microbiome and metabolome in the etiopathogenesis of MS
3. Testing the therapeutic efficacy of human gut-derived bacteria as drug (BRUG) in animal models of MS

Science Cafes are free public events that bring people together in a casual setting to discuss interesting and current science topics. Speakers are professional scientists who strive to keep the content accessible to the general public, while a moderator assists with group dynamics. What began as a grassroots movement to help scientists engage with local communities has expanded into hundreds of sites around the world.

Join us for free organic popcorn and a lively discussion!

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