Release Date: November 10, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Every nook and cranny of the human body is home to trillions of tiny organisms, most of which are either helpful or harmless. The University at Buffalo’s Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) wants to introduce you to them all.
From Nov. 14-18, GEM will host Mind Your Microbiome and Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, a series of public events that aim to educate the community about the microbes that live in and on our bodies – including the large number of good bacteria that colonize our bodies and keep us healthy, and the few bad bacteria that cause infections and make us ill.
Guests will learn how antibiotics, if taken incorrectly, can have a lasting impact on our microbiome – the five pounds of microorganisms that live in and on the human body.
The events will be held in partnership with the Erie County Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which runs the annual Get Smart About Antibiotics campaign nationally during the same week.
Antibiotic overuse has led to the increasing prevalence of resistant strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat.
The outreach efforts hope to promote awareness of the microbiome and rein in the overuse of antibiotics, both in our food and those prescribed to treat infection. According to research by the CDC, nearly 80 percent of Americans are prescribed at least one antibiotic each year, and nearly a third of those prescriptions are unnecessary.
Educating the public on these issues will empower people to make better choices for their health.
Activities that will be held throughout the Western New York community include:
Microbiome Elementary School Workshops: UB students, faculty and staff will travel to second grade classrooms in the Buffalo Public Schools and Sweet Home Central School District to host interactive workshops where children swab, plate and grow microbial colonies collected from themselves and their classrooms.
Antimicrobial Resistance: A Pharmacy and Public Health Perspective: Local public health and pharmacy experts will discuss the critical issues that we face due to antibiotic resistance.
The event is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, on the UB South Campus. It is free and open to the public. The program is co-sponsored by the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Fermentation Fair Featuring “Dr. Small’s Balls” Antibiotics Workshop: Sample fermented foods and learn how microbes impact our gut and colon health. The workshop will also include an interactive demonstration on the differences between bacterial, viral and fungal infections to promote proper antibiotic use.
The event is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in 17 Norton Hall on the UB North Campus. It is free and open to the public. The program is hosted by the UB Academies.
“Soil” by Nicole Clouston, A Biological Art Performance: Using soil as her medium, biological artist Nicole Clouston will engage the ways in which we are connected to the vast array of microbial life present within it. The project involves filling a series of clear acrylic prisms with mud and nutrients, that when exposed to light, cause the bacteria, molds and other microbial life to flourish into layers of vibrant colors.
The performance and accompanying lecture is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, in the Center for the Arts, room 144, on the UB North Campus. It is free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the UB Coalesce Center for Biological Art.
Diversity of the Skin Microbiome: Hear from Julie Segre, PhD, chief and senior investigator in the Translational and Functional Genomics Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute, about the various microorganisms that call our skin home.
The event is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute at Elm and Carlton Streets in Buffalo. The event is free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Program within the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
GEM has also partnered with the Erie County Department of Health and the Patient Voices Network to provide more than 4,000 brochures and posters to 75 community pharmacies, several medical clinics and the Buffalo Public Libraries.
Through GEM, UB researchers work to uncover the ways in which microbes help us in our daily lives. Scientists are studying the links between the microbiome and pregnancy, digestion, cancer and more.