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Speaker lineup confirmed for ‘Session 1: Context-aware experimental designs’ at the July 2022 MSE virtual symposium!

The speaker lineup is set for the first day of the July 2022 MSE virtual symposium, which is focused on “Context-aware experimental designs”. The three talks, featuring a total of 5 researchers, will present perspectives on the human microbiome and studying it within broader contexts to better understand our interactions with microbes. Our hope is that attendees for this session learn from different perspectives how to more creatively design or analyze their research to account for the effects that social policy and local environment can have on microbial exposures.

The program for the July 2022 MSE virtual symposium, “Developing transformative Research Skills”, is beginning to take shape as we continue to confirm speakers for the 5 sessions, the full program for which can be found here.

Session 1: “Context-aware experimental designs”

Monday, July 18th, 12:30 ~ 16:00 EST. Register for this session.

Session leaders:

Dr. Ariangela Kozik, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan, and the Co-founder and Vice President of the Black Microbiologists Association

Dr. Sue Ishaq, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at University of Maine and Founder of the Microbes and Social Equity working group.

Scope: Microbiome research often uses broad categorical factors as proxy factors for complex social or environmental contexts, but these can ignore or obscure underlying trends. This session will unpack proxy terms like race, Western diet, dysbiosis, rural/urban, and more, to differentiate what variables we actually want to measure and how to accomplish this in data collection and analysis. This session will also discuss how to communicate microbiome results in relation to broader contexts of lived experiences, rather than attributing results to broad proxy categories.

Learning Objectives of Session: Attendees will learn 1) the process of identifying more precise and appropriate measurement variables when engaging in human-adjacent microbiome research, instead of using proxy factors, 2) how to include more resolution to factorial data during collection, and 3) examples of how to process complex social data during microbiome data analysis.

Format of talks: Three 30-min lecture-style talks will disambiguate proxy categorizations into more precise variables that consider social contexts, approach to course, lessons learned/challenges.

Format of breakout rooms: Each room creates a concept map which disambiguates a proxy category into specific variables, and discusses how to frame surrey questions or leverage existing data to obtain this information. Each room has a designated topic area (e.g. environmental restoration) to help audience members group by discipline or type of information they are looking for.

Session Speakers:

Dr. Elizabeth F.S. Roberts, PhD., Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Making better numbers through bioethnography

“Proposal of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status Based Analysis of Human Microbiome Project”

Dr. Katherine Maki, PhD., Assistant Clinical Investigator, Translational Biobehavioral and Health Disparities Branch, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

Dr. Nicole M. Farmer, M.D., Principal Investigator, Translational Biobehavioral and Health Disparities Branch, NIH Clinical Center

Dr. Kelly K. Jones, Ph.D., RN, Research Fellow, Neighborhoods and Health Lab, Division of Intramural Research, National Institutes of Health

Dr. Osama Tanous, M.D., Palestinian pediatrician based in Haifa and a board member of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel; Visiting Scientist, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University; Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow of Public Health and Health Policies, Emory University. His recent publication can be found here.

“From bedside to the journal – understanding bacteria in a settler colonial setting”

12:30 – 14:15 Introduction and Speakers

14:15 – 14:30 Break

14:30 – 16:00 Breakout room discussions based on skills development, in smaller groups

  1. Deconstructing race as a biological variable
  2. Common pitfalls/challenges to experimental design 
  3. Matching clinical work to social contexts.
  4. Bioethnography to generate hypotheses
  5. Planning for variables in microbiome and social research
  6. Combining microbiome and social data analysis
  7. TBD

Prior to this session, you may want to watch these recorded talks:


Featured image from Robinson et al. 2022.

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