Demystifying the Microbiome: Microbes and the Host in Health and Disease

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Have you ever wondered what makes you “You”? Is it just your unique DNA? Would you believe it, if you were told that there are as many microbial cells in your body as there are “human” cells? Come discover your microbiome, a mind-boggling community of bacteria, viruses and fungi, that helps make you the human you are! This course will explore the fascinating world of these microbes; who they are, where they come from and why we need them.

Through the looking glass of this course, you will learn to see your skin, gut and other body surfaces as ecosystems where special microbes are selected to live in a symbiotic relationship with you. Leave the predictable world of biology labs behind and study the unknown microbial flora of your own body. What do your gut bacteria look like? What kind of food do they prefer? Do you harbor any antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Get a taste of real-world research as you catalog and analyze your experimental results, discovering something new each day.

The foundation of the microbiome field lies in the ability to accurately describe the microbial community in every part of our body. You can discover firsthand the basic techniques involved in isolating and characterizing these microbes. Get introduced to the cutting edge sequencing techniques that power microbiome research.

Come understand why microbiome researchers love talking about poop. Students will dive into the fascinating field of gut microbiome research and how the microbes in the gut affect every organ in your body. Learn more about fecal transplants which harness the power of poop to fight nasty bacterial infections.

Research requires an ideal mix of intelligence, hard work, creativity and critical thinking. Polish your analytical skills through creative homework assignments that make you look at cutting-edge developments through a different perspective. Learn to think out of the box as you formulate your own research proposal on one hand and concoct a brilliant science fiction story on the other!

Microbiome research is the next big thing in the biomedical field and has revolutionized our understanding of human biology. Be it fecal transplants or probiotics, this research is already part of our everyday lives. After completing this course, students will have an appreciation for the thriving ecosystem that is the human body and how our diet and lifestyle affect our microbiome and thereby our health.

This course builds on concepts from a variety of areas such as microbiology, molecular biology and host-microbe interactions. Students will be able to appreciate how all these components work together within the body and the delicate balance between genetics and lifestyle required to maintain good health. They will learn basic techniques of microbiology, molecular biology and also get a taste of cutting edge techniques such as microbial sequencing and data analysis. Students will be given the tools to critically evaluate advances in microbiome research and contribute to this field in the future.

Prerequisites: High School Biology

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI1001
  • Length: 2 weeks
  • Supplemental Fee: $125

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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