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Human Microbiome Project

Lab of Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai

The microbiome as ecosystem


The hottest area in longevity study today is the microbiome  and its uses in maintaining our metabolism, immune system, sleep cycles  and even our mental and emotional health.

To take one example,  the gardener’s feeling of “wondrous life,” to quote poet Andrew Marvell,  has hard science to back it. The soil microbe mycobacterium vaccae stimulates  the natural anti-depressant serotonin, improves cognitive function, and  reduces inflammation. The effects of microbes on our health includes  the evidence for the "hygiene hypothesis"-- that higher exposure to  microbes helps protect us from depression, allergies, asthma, and  autoimmune disorders.

Globally, beyond our own longevity,  microbes could produce food, inexpensive chemicals and energy, and  reduce deforestation and waste. Yet the explosion of knowledge had only  identified the genes of some .01% of the earth’s smallest creatures.   What is needed is more evidence to devise a plan to translate pure  science into application.  Until then, here are some good terms and  websites:​

Important terms in healthful human longevity, genes and pathways

  • Apoptosis
  • Daf-2, Daf-1
  • FOXO3a
  • Sir2, SIRT1-7
  • TOR
  • AMP-kinase
  • Rapamycin
  • Mitochondria

Organizations and websites