“Bugs ‘R Us: The Role of Microbes in Disease, Health and Society” | Spring 2013 Wall Exchange

On May 21, 2013 award-winning microbiologist Dr. B. Brett Finlay delivered the spring 2013 Wall Exchange with a lecture on how bacteria live in the human body and help maintain good health. This talk, held at the Vogue Theatre in downtown Vancouver, explored new research on the role of the microbiota in health, mechanisms used by microbes to cause disease, and new approaches to counter infections, including potentially using the microbiota to prevent other diseases.

The microbiota (also known as the normal flora of the human body) is comprised of thousands of species of microbes. Only recently have we begun to appreciate the role of these organisms in health. Microbiota impact on diarrhea, obesity, various bowel diseases, type I diabetes, asthma, and even brain development. In developed countries, we have gone to great lengths to minimize our exposure to microbes, both pathogenic and harmless. The Hygiene Hypothesis suggests that perhaps we have gone too far, as hominids have evolved in a sea of microbes, and actually need exposure to microbes early in life to develop normally.