CEM Seminar- Joe Alcock

Allies of Enemies? Gut Microbiota and the War on Fat — Joe Alcock

Associate Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of New Mexico
Allies or enemies? Gut microbiota and the war on fat
The human gut microbiota has been described as a “forgotten organ” that is essential to human health and happiness. Evidence suggests that commensal microbes are protective against allergy, nutrient deficiency, and certain infections. However, not all interactions between vertebrates and their microbes are friendly. We argue that competition for nutrients and other resources cause conflicts of interest in the metagenome, the combination of human and microbial genes. Metagenomic conflicts of interests might drive some unhealthy eating behaviors, since nutrient energy is shared between the host and microbiota. This hypothesis has implications for food cravings and the obesity epidemic.
Dr. Alcock is an emergency physician at the University of New Mexico who has taught evolutionary medicine to students in the UNM School of Medicine and UNM Biology Department since 2008. Dr. Alcock studies the translational potential of evolutionary medicine, with a special interest in human microbiome co-evolution. His current research is focused on the effects of diet and circdian rhythm disruption on the human microbiome and immune system.