Montana State University

Human interactions with microorganisms the focus of Feb. 12 Kopriva lecture

January 30, 2015 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- A free public lecture about how disease-causing microbes interact with the human gastrointestinal tract will be given on Thursday, Feb. 12, at Montana State University.

Seth Walk, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the recipient of a Kopriva Faculty Lectureship in Biomedical Sciences, will present "Your Body of Bugs: Some Good, Some Bad and Revolutionizing Attributes of the Human Microbiome" at 4:10 p.m. in the Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building. A reception will follow.

Our bodies are composed of 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, but we are only beginning to understand how these microscopic partners influence human health and disease. Research in Walk’s lab is part basic discovery and part clinical as he investigates how human interactions with microorganisms both help and hurt us. Walk will discuss ongoing projects, as well as transformative topics in microbiome research with respect to human health.

In 2014, Walk received a $100,000, 18-month Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Along with two collaborators, Blake Wiedenheft at MSU and Jason Spence at the University of Michigan, he is developing a new tool to study gastrointestinal tract dysbiosis more effectively. Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance of microorganisms that causes a variety of health problems, including gastroenteritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The tool is a 3-D human tissue culture.

Walk’s lecture is presented by the Kopriva Science Seminar Series, which is funded through an endowment created by Phil Kopriva, a 1957 MSU microbiology graduate. The series features seminars by MSU graduate students, faculty members and guest speakers. For more information about this and other Kopriva lectures, visit http://www.montana.edu/lettersandscience/kopriva.html

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Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu