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Houk-Jung Organic Colloquium 247: Emily Balskus

Organic Colloquium

February 23, 2023 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mani L. Bhaumik Centennial Collaboratory
607 Charles E. Young Dr., East
Los Angeles, CA 90095 United States
Speaker Prof. Emily Balskus


Title: Deciphering the Human Microbiome with Chemistry
Abstract: The human body is colonized by trillions of microorganisms that exert a profound influence on human biology, in part by providing functional capabilities that extend beyond those of host cells. In particular, there is growing evidence linking chemical processes carried out by the human gut microbiome to diseases such as colorectal cancer. However, we still do not understand the vast majority of the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Major obstacles faced in surmounting this knowledge gap include the difficulty linking functions associated with the human gut microbiota to specific microbial enzymes and the challenge of controlling these activities in complex microbial communities. This talk will discuss my lab’s efforts to characterize gut microbial metabolic activities that are linked to colorectal cancer, including a gut microbial genotoxin called colibactin. Gaining a molecular understanding of cancer-associated gut microbial activities will not only help to elucidate the mechanisms by which these organisms contribute to carcinogenesis but should also enable efforts to treat and prevent disease by manipulating this microbial community.

Prof. Emily Balskus

Organic Colloquium
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute