Microbes and Social Equity special session at the Ecology Social of America 2021 meeting.

Our proposal for a special session on ‘microbes and social equity’ has been approved for the Ecology Society of America scientific conference this summer, August 2 – 6, 2021! This year’s meeting will be entirely virtual, allowing us to host panel speakers from various locations. This session requires registration to the ESA meeting.

ESA Special Session 19205: “Microbiomes and Social Equity”

09:30 – 12:30 PST/ 12:30 – 15:30 EST

Microbiomes — environmental, human and other organismal symbionts — are increasingly seen as critical physiological, developmental and ecological mediators within and among living things, and between the latter and our abiotic environments. Therefore, it is no surprise that microbial communities may be altered, depleted or disrupted by social and economic determinants. Social inequality entails concrete alterations and differentiation of microbial communities among social groups, by way of such factors as nutritional access, environmental pollutants or green space availability, often to the detriment of human and ecosystem health. This special session will be organized as a panel discussion with break-out groups in order to provide participants the opportunity to discuss the ways in which social inequity interacts with microbiomes, and how we might intervene as scientists and communities to promote favorable microbiomes while advancing social equality. We hope to generate research questions and actionable items.

Panel speakers: Michael Friedman, Naupaka Zimmerman, Justin Stewart, Monica Trujillo, Sue Ishaq, Sierra Jech, Jennifer Bhatnagar, and Ariangela Kozik

Watch the Microbes and Social Equity seminar from May 5

Integrating Equity into Emerging Infectious Disease Research

Dr. Kishana Taylor, MS, PhD

May 5, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST.

Watch the recorded talk.

About the speaker:  Dr. Kishana Taylor is a virologist and Co-founder and president of the Black Microbiologists Association. Dr. Taylor holds a bachelors degree in animal science, a masters of public health in microbiology and emerging infectious disease, and a doctorate in interdisciplinary biomedical science.  Dr. Taylor is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Wayne. Her current NSF funded research focuses on the role of monocytes and macrophages in SARS-CoV2 infection and subsequent development of COVID-19.  Dr. Taylor’s research interest include arboviruses, zoonotic viruses and their epidemiology, ecology and evolution. 

https://kishanataylor.com/

Twitter: @KYT_ThatsME

About the seminar: Much like previous pandemics, the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, especially in the U.S., has brought to the forefront pre-existing social and structural inequalities that affect access to quality healthcare and perpetuate viral spread. As we begin to think toward the future and the next inevitable pandemic, it is important to incorporate the lessons learned from this pandemic, and others, in an attempt to mitigate similar patterns of inequity in the future.

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Watch the Microbes and Social Equity seminar from April 28

Missing Microbes and Missing Out: microbes and social equity in the context of youth in detention.  

Drs. Ally Hunter, PhD. and Christina Bosch, M.A., M.Ed., PhD

April 28, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST

Watch the recorded talk.

Ally Hunter, PhD Science Education, MS Biology (Micro & Molecular)
Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Youth Engagement
NSF Project RAISE (Reclaiming Access to Inquiry Science Education for Incarcerated Learners)
NSF Project INSITE (INtegrating STEM Into Transition Education for Incarcerated Youth)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

https://www.umass.edu/education/people/ally-hunter

Christina Anderson Bosch
Doctoral Candidate at University of Massachusetts, Amherst 
M.A., Special Education: Learning Disabilities
M. Ed., Mind, Brain and Education
NSF Project RAISE (Reclaiming Access to Inquiry Science Education for Incarcerated Learners)

https://umass.academia.edu/ChristinaBosch

About the seminar: In the US, incarcerated youth are a population that are vulnerable to a variety of poor outcomes that include disrupted or incomplete education, unemployment, homelessness, health disparities, and incarceration as adults.  Through the lens of microbiome health we can envision additional poor outcomes for incarcerated youth: loss of access to nutrition and diet education, loss of access to diets that support microbiome health, loss of access to beneficial microbes, and over-exposure to harmful microbes.  

This presentation will discuss the potential for microbial inequity for incarcerate youth and highlight current educational responses that could serve to mitigate some of these disparities.

Using our experiences as educational researchers and curriculum developers on STEM education initiatives for incarcerated youth, we will present background information on this particularly vulnerable population.  We will discuss our work on developing biology curriculum for juvenile justice settings and where we see a need for further development of microbiology, nutrition and basic health curriculum.  Then, we will facilitate a group discussion to engage the scientific community with this understudied and underserved population in the context of microbial inequity.

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Registration open for the Microbes and Social Equity virtual symposium, June 14 – 18, 2021

The Microbes and Social Equity working group and The University of Maine Institute of Medicine present an inaugural symposium on:

“Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health”

June 14 – 18th, 2021

Format: virtual meeting, Zoom platform.

Program and Registration

Registration, a full speaker list and program, and details of each day can be found here.

Registration will occur for each (day) section individually, so participants can select which topics to participate in, or all of them. 

Registration is free and open to the public.

Summary

Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Many human clinical conditions or diseases have been established as being related  to the state of the human microbiome.  It is known that collective social inequity can drive the prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of some of these diseases or conditions. When access to a nutritious  diet and healthcare are impeded by social inequity, these disparities can also affect the human microbiome; this can further contribute to reduced or poorly functioning microbiomes. 

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. The emergence of the SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically altered our daily lives and the availability and ability to access essential resources, which has been worsened by pre-existing social inequity. Yet, the pandemic has also highlighted the inherent social disparity among those more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.  

This meeting highlights recent investigations into beneficial and detrimental instances of microbial exposure, in the context of how social policy may mediate or deepen disparities between and within populations. In addition to invited presentations on thematic sections, each section will involve a discussion session using smaller breakout groups, to facilitate conversations and brainstorming between attendees.  These groups will be arranged around smaller themes or research questions, and group members will identify knowledge gaps for future research, as well as list actionable steps that can be taken using existing research to promote equitable social policy.  Ideally, meeting attendees will gain knowledge, collaborators and connections, and a path forward for turning their research into evidence-based policy to support public health.

Meeting dynamics

Unlike traditional symposium formats, this meeting will present some plenary-style talks by experts in the field, including biological scientists, social scientists, practitioners or policy makers, as well as facilitate discussion among participants. Each thematic section will feature 90 minutes of talks, which will be recorded and made publicly available after the live session.  After each plenary session, there will be 90 minutes of discussion in groups led by speakers and MSE group members, and assisted by notetakers, with ~10 participants per breakout room. Participants will be encouraged to “problem solve” a suggested topic or one of their own choosing.  The goal is to create action items that are meaningful for group participants, such as ideas for curricula development, identifying research needs or best practices, suggestions for engaging research in policy, and more.

Still time to register for the Microbes and Social Equity seminar April 21

Physiological Implications of Pre-Existing Inflammatory Co-Morbidities when the Body is Introduced to Novel Infectious Processes   

Dr. Deborah Saber, PhD, RN, CCRN-K

April 21, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST.

Register here.

About the speaker: Dr. Saber is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Maine where she teaches pathophysiological and critical care concepts to upper-level undergraduate nursing students. She also holds a joint position at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center where she directs the program development for nursing research and evidence-based practice. As a practicing intensive care registered nurse (RN) with over 25 years of patient care nursing experience, she has cared for patients infected with multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), multidrug-resistant tuberculosis) and diseases from outbreaks that include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and H1N1. Dr. Saber’s research focuses on microbial movement in the healthcare setting as this relates to the use personal protective equipment (PPE) and resulting solid waste.

umaine.edu/nursing/people/deborah-saber-ph-d-rn-ccrn-k/

About the seminar: This seminar will focus on findings from the literature that emphasize the vulnerability of populations with preexisting health conditions that impact their ability to defend against infectious diseases. We will discuss common co-morbid conditions, the role of the inflammatory processes in infectious processes, and how social inequity can predispose vulnerable populations to novel infectious processes.

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Watch the Microbes and Social Equity seminar from April 14th

Investigating social determinates of health and social equity among veterans; a United States-Veteran Microbiome Project  

LTC. Andrew J. Hoisington, Ph.D.

April 14, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. 

Watch the recorded talk.

About the speaker: Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hoisington is currently an adjunct Associate Professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology as he serves on active duty Air Force rebuilding Tyndall AFB after hurricane Michael. Lt Col Hoisington received his PhD in 2013 from the University of Texas, studying the indoor microbiome. In 2015 he was one of four founding members of the Military and Veterans Microbiome Consortium for Research and Education, an organization to advance microbiome science and education to benefit military personnel, Veterans, and their families. 

Twitter: @MVM_CoRE Website: https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn19/mvm/

About the seminar: In 2019, over half a million people in the United States did not have a place to call home. Research suggests that homeless individuals have higher rates of diet deficiencies, physical and mental health disorders (e.g., infectious diseases, depression), and inadequate health care when compared to those who are stably housed. From a social equity perspective, risk for homelessness is impacted by a range of social determinants including socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity. Here we present the results 16S rRNA and metagenomics analysis from a US Military Veterans who are currently or were previously homeless. To the best of our knowledge, these preliminary results are the first known study of the microbiome among those with a history of homelessness and will likely contribute to a better understanding of interactions among social determinates of health, social equity, the human microbiome, and human health. 

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Watch the Microbes and Social Equity seminar from April 7

Social and ethical implications of human microbiome research.

Dr. Kieran O’Doherty, PhD

April 7, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST.

Watch the recording.

About the speaker: Dr. Kieran C. O’Doherty is professor in the department of psychology at the University of Guelph, where he directs the Discourse, Science, Publics research Group. His research focuses on the social and ethical implications of science and technology. In this context, he has published on such topics as data governance, vaccines, human tissue biobanks, salmon genomics, and genetic testing. A particular emphasis of his research has been on the social and ethical aspects of human microbiome research. Kieran’s research also emphasizes public deliberation on science and technology. In this regard, he has designed and implemented deliberative forums in which members of the public engage in in-depth discussion about ethical aspects of science and technology and collectively develop recommendations for policy.

Recent edited volumes include Psychological Studies of Science and Technology (2019) and The Sage Handbook of Applied Social Psychology (2019). Kieran’s research has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation, Genome Canada and Genome British Columbia. He is editor of Theory & Psychology. His lab website is: https://dsp.uoguelph.ca, and you can find him on Twitter: Personal, @KieranODoherty; Lab, @dsp_lab

About the seminar: There are many social and ethical implications of human microbiome research. In this presentation, I will focus on 3 types of ethical implications. The first type are ethical considerations that should be taken into account when conducting research on the human microbiome. Key points here include issues relating to information privacy, ownership of samples and data, and the rights of Indigenous and other identifiable communities from whom microbiome samples might be obtained. The second type of ethical implications relates to the consequences of specific technologies and applications developed using microbiome science. Examples here include the consequences of strategic engineering of microbes and their use in human and animal populations. The third kind of ethical implications I will discuss relates to problems that are already present, but have only become visible, or perhaps just more obvious, as a result of knowledge generated by human microbiome research. An example here is damage to vaginal microbiomes that is caused by vaginal cleansing products promoted to women to feel “Clean & Fresh.” In this context, I argue that clinical applications of human microbiome science, while valuable, are too narrow when considering the damage that is being done our collective microbiomes as a society and a species. I conclude by reiterating calls for recognition of the microbiome as a common good and the need for stewardship of microbiomes.

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Rescheduled to May 5: Microbes and Social Equity seminar “Integrating Equity into Emerging Infectious Disease Research”

Integrating Equity into Emerging Infectious Disease Research

Dr. Kishana Taylor, MS, PhD

Moved to May 5, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST.

Register here. If you were previously registered, your registration link is still good!

In the mean time, please enjoy the MSE Speaker Greatest Hits.

About the speaker:  Dr. Kishana Taylor is a virologist and Co-founder and president of the Black Microbiologists Association. Dr. Taylor holds a bachelors degree in animal science, a masters of public health microbiology and emerging infectious disease and a doctorate in interdisciplinary biomedical science.  Dr. Taylor is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Wayne. Her current NSF funded research focuses on the role of monocytes and macrophages in SARS-CoV2 infection and subsequent development of COVID-19.  Dr. Taylors research interest include arboviruses, zoonotic viruses and their epidemiology, ecology and evolution. 

Twitter: @KYT_ThatsME

About the seminar: Much like previous pandemics, the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, especially in the U.S., has brought to the forefront pre-existing social and structural inequalities that affect access to quality healthcare and perpetuate viral spread. As we begin to think toward the future and the next inevitable pandemic, it is important to incorporate the lessons learned from this pandemic, and others, in an attempt to mitigate similar patterns of inequity in the future.

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Watch the Microbes and Social Equity seminar from Mar 24th

Embodied microbiomes: a 4E-cognition perspective on microbial life and social equity 

Dr. Francisco Parada Flores, PhD

March 24, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST. 

Watch the recording.

About the speaker: After studying Psychology and Neuroscience in Chile, I moved to the USA to pursue my Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Neural Sciences at the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University-Bloomington. During this period I was able to work on neural signal processing, brain networks, and embodiment within the context of social cognition. After continuing my development through postdoctoral work at the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School I came back to Chile as a tenured professor of Psychology at Universidad Diego Portales (UDP). At UDP I funded the Center for Human Neuroscience & Neuropsychology (CEHNN), a multi-PI research center and day clinic for brain lesion survivors dedicated to the development of the transdisciplinary 4E cognition research program. 

Twitter: @fj_parada

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Francisco_J_Parada

About the seminar: TBD

About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health.  The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues.  The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.   

Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.  The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.

Save the date for the Microbes and Social Equity symposium!

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We are in the processing of finalizing our speaker list and program, as well as creating registration links. Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, please enjoy our free speaker series!