Published November 13, 2018
The human body is home to five pounds of microorganisms; most are helpful and others can make us ill. UB aims to teach you about them all during Mind Your Microbiome and Be Antibiotics Aware Week.
Held during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 12-18, the program, now in its third year, promotes awareness of the microbiome and educates the public about the lasting effects of antibiotic overuse.
The events are held in partnership between the UB Community of Excellence in Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM), the CDC and the Erie County Department of Health.
“The GEM community is committed to spreading awareness of the microbes that live in, on and around us. So many are important for our own well-being and are at risk when antibiotics are used inappropriately,” says Jennifer Surtees, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
“At the same time, there are some very harmful microbes that we need to be able to control with antibiotics. This delicate balance is important for everyone to understand.”
Antibiotic overuse — both in our food and those prescribed to treat infection — has led to the increasing prevalence of resistant strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat. According to CDC research, nearly 80 percent of Americans are prescribed at least one antibiotic each year, but half of those prescriptions are either unnecessary or ineffective.
By educating the public on these issues, Mind Your Microbiome and Be Antibiotics Aware Week can empower people to make better choices for their health.
GEM will partner with the Buffalo Museum of Science and Erie County Department of Health to host Pushing Back: Antimicrobial Resistance, an evening focused on the harms of antibiotic overuse and the state of microbiome research.
The event is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo. Guest speakers include Erie County Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein and Robert J. Genco, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the UB Microbiome Center.
Attendance is free with museum admission. For more information visit the science museum’s website.
“As part of our ever-expanding programming, the Buffalo Museum of Science is pleased to host this dialogue with health professionals and medical researchers on the current science of antibiotics use and public health,” says Marisa Wigglesworth, president and CEO of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.
GEM is also collaborating with the Erie County Department of Health, UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student groups, and the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Community Engagement Core to offer English- and Spanish-language outreach materials at local public libraries, pharmacies, medical clinics and Department of Motor Vehicles offices.
UB students will visit local middle and high schools to hold interactive activities that show how antibiotics target bacterial infections, are ineffective against viruses and can harm the microbiome by removing good bacteria.
To learn more about GEM or Mind Your Microbiome and Be Antibiotics Aware Week, visit the GEM website.