All posts for the month May, 2015

Hi- I’ve been writing articles for fun for The Conversation, and enjoying the attention those get. I’ve neglected to post much to this blog because of that, but later today or tomorrow I plan to contribute a new post describing a paper from Neuroscience in which links between gut bacterial composition and the functioning of the mouse nervous system are described. It will be a very interesting read!
I’ve also written an article on probiotic bacteria for a website called, but that hasn’t been posted- the website’s maintainer has faced some difficulties recently and hasn’t had time.
Here are the four articles I’ve written so far for The Conversation, and I hope you find them of interest.
How gut bacteria affect your immune system and response to vaccines –
How soil bacteria and fungi can help plants grow (this one was the first and it was not well edited- it needs a bit of work) –

I have neglected to post very much lately because of (a) work responsibilities (b) illness, and (c) for the past three weeks I’ve been using my spare time and energy to put together an academic grant application which, if successful, will pay for a lot of sequencing. Without the grant the work will still move forward, only sequencing (and, results) will have to wait until I have been able to raise funds to pay for it. I’ve learned from last year that crowdfunding is only mildly successful unless you know a lot of people- I do not know a lot of people, so I’m not giving that another try. I would rather take out a bank loan.

In the course of writing the grant application I’ve had to nail down specifics about what will be done in the labs of my various collaborators, and when. It’s exciting work! Material transfer agreements have been signed between my university, UCLA, and Duke, and two separate small projects will be conducted which, if successful, will shed light on the issue of whether my ideas for helping chemotherapy patients have any merit. They also may shed light on some basic mechanisms by which gut bacteria and their hosts communicate, which is pretty exciting.

In a related note, I’ve spoken with a researcher at Johns Hopkins and he has given me a lead on some exciting new methods that will really help my project, if I can find a way to convince someone to perform the assay for me (I am afraid I do not have enough expertise- and I’ve been away from bench work for more than a year! So I can’t do this myself).