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  • Joan Rothchild Hardin

Measuring Gut Microbial Diversity – Justin & Erica Sonnenburg

Here’s something really interesting that will greatly help us improve our gut health and overall health – hopefully in the near future: Dr Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist and immunologist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is looking into the interactions between the intestinal microbiota and its host.

Justin Sonnenburg, PhD

His Sonnenburg Lab has recently recruited a graduate student to focus on inventing a device that will allow us to check on the health of our gut micro-organisms. The idea for the device is something that can be suspended into a solution of fecal sample we collect at home, with a meter that can be plugged into an iPhone to see an analysis of which critters are living in our guts at that moment and how they’re doing. As Sonnenburg says, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful, every time you go to the bathroom in the morning, to know if what you’ve done in the past week has had an impact on your microbiota?” Dr Sonnenburg was a 2009 recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. In 2011 he received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award.

(The Sonnenburg family at the table. Source: New York Magazine)