Symposium focuses on human diet, ‘cross-talk’ between gut microbes and host physiology

Media contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu  

Contact: Dr. Robert S. Chapkin, 979-845-0419, r-chapkin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – Scientists at Texas A&M University recently participated in the day-long Grand Challenges Symposium sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the effects of the human diet and “cross-talk” between gut microbiota and host physiology with ties to chronic diseases such as colon cancer.

Scientists at Texas A&M University recently participated in the day-long Grand Challenges Symposium sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The symposium theme focused on the effects of the human diet and “cross-talk” between gut microbiota and host physiology with ties to chronic diseases such as colon cancer. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

The symposium outcomes could be far-reaching as the researchers will be preparing a grant submission to the National Institutes of Health. They will be proposing a Center for Advancing Research on Botanical and Other Natural Products. The center would be an initiative of the Office of Dietary Supplements and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health CARBON Program, at Texas A&M.

“We feel appropriately poised to do this,” said Dr. Robert Chapkin, a symposium co-organizer and Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist, University Distinguished Professor and National Cancer Institute R35 Outstanding Investigator. “This is all part of a comprehensive collaborative effort among the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, AgriLife Research and the A&M System to seek national funding for this important work. The primary research focus of this center is to identify plant-derived botanicals with the potential to favorably modulate the gut microbiome and thus benefit human health.”

Chapkin said this effort is underscored by recent evidence indicating gastrointestinal-derived microbes, or microbiome, may ultimately be the missing link in the development of chronic diseases in humans and may also explain the benefits of health-promoting diets.

“For example, targeted dietary interventions can modulate the gut microbiome for the purpose of favorably impacting gut biology, thus preventing a broad range of chronic diseases, including colon cancer, fatty liver disease, obesity, asthma and coronary heart disease,” he said. “It now appears that the trillions of microbes in our gut, diet and human health are intertwined.

Chapkin, along with Dr. Clinton Allred, in the nutrition and food science department at Texas A&M, brought to the symposium an interdisciplinary group of researchers with complementary skills in nutrition, genetics, microbiology, computational biology, cancer cell biology and chemoprevention.

Symposium speakers were Drs.:

– Wanqing Liu, pharmaceutical sciences, Wayne State University.

– Yuxiang Sun, nutrition and food science, Texas A&M.

– Ivan Ivanov, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, Texas A&M.

– Jimmy Crott, nutrition research on aging, Tufts University.

– Christian Jobin, infectious diseases and pathology, University of Florida.

–  Yi Xu, Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M Health Science Center.

–  Johanna Lampe, Cancer Prevention, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle.

Issues discussed were related to the far-reaching impact of gut microbiota on the initiation and treatment of chronic diseases, Chapkin said.

  “Attaining our CARBON Center objective will make Texas A&M University the de facto leader in the development and dissemination of new knowledge as we pursue the Grand Challenge of Chronic Disease Prevention,” he said.

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