Biostatistics Chair, Shyamal D. Peddada, will present "Factors influencing infant gut microbiota and their impact on growth and development" as UPMC Hillman Cancer Center's Basic Translational Research Seminar Series guest speaker (hosted by Daniel Normolle). Location: UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion, 5150 Centre Avenue, Cooper D Conference Room.
Increasingly we are discovering that various microbiomes play critical roles in human health and disease. Their roles in epigenetic changes, inflammation, immune responses and neurological disease are well documented in the literature. In this talk, we shall describe factors that play a critical role in the composition of the infant gut microbiome and their temporal dynamics during growth and development. A normal healthy woman undergoes complex physiological, hormonal, and biochemical changes during the course of pregnancy. In particular, her gut and vaginal flora undergo dynamic changes. We have demonstrated the effects of various dietary nutrients on the microbiome composition of women at delivery, a critical time point of exposure for babies. The loss of diversity in the gut flora and perturbations in the composition of short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are microbial byproducts resulting from fermentation, affect the immune system. SCFA play critical role in protecting the immune system and controlling inflammation. Some of their functions include controlling the pH in the lumen to protect from enteropathogens, developing intestinal epithelium, and increasing glycoproteins. Several studies have shown that a healthy gut microbiome is essential in newborns for establishing the immune system and for normal growth and development. We shall touch on a broad range of topics in this area, including some statistical issues. Although it is not the focus of this talk, we shall demonstrate that routine statistical methods are not appropriate for these data.