Obesity and Microbiome: Concepts and Contradictions

Friday, 13 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21D (San Jose Convention Center)
Obesity is a public health epidemic in the United States. Traditionally, risk factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and diet are the main focus of combating the obesity epidemic. In recent years, advances in sequencing technology have led to innovative ideas and analytical and visualization tools in the study of the role of gut microbes in obesity. Scientists have made great strides in linking microbial community compositions to obesity in studies in mice, humans, and human-to-mouse fecal transplantation. These successes have raised hopes of potential therapeutic targets through altering the gut microbiome communities of obese individuals. However, there have been conflicting reports about the relationship between gut microbiota taxonomy compositions and obesity; specifically, large surveys of data from the Human Microbiome Project Consortium and the Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract (MetaHIT) study have led to inconsistent results. Interstudy variability in fecal microbiome communities appears to exceed differences between lean and obese individuals, thus masking the potential of consistent detection of any true association between underlying microbiome taxonomy and obesity. Therefore, enhancing crosstalk between experimental scientists and computational scientists is needed to uncover possible reasons for these conflicting results, to drive further innovations, to synthesize diverse information in the study of gut microbiota and obesity, and to accelerate exciting future clinical applications.
Shili Lin, Ohio State University
Peter J. Turnbaugh, Harvard University
Gut Microbial Promotion of Energy Gain on Processed Diets
Katherine S. Pollard, University of California
Variability and Potential Causes for Inconsistencies in Human Datasets