Sarkis Mazmanian is a professor at California Institute of Technology who studies how the gut microbiome influences the development and function of the nervous system, the “Gut-Brain Axis”. Dr. Mazmanian has discovered that the microbiome influences the development of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease caused by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain that affects motor function. Dr. Mazmanian talks about the evidence that the gut microbiome influences PD, implications of this research for the diagnosis and treatment of PD, the involvement of the microbiome in other neurological conditions, and people freezing away their poop for fecal transplants. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Mortimer Dinglehopper, a retired oil tycoon who becomes dangerously ill after his ritual nighttime dessert.

 

Participants:

Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Sarkis Mazmanian, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology)

Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Carlos Paladini, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Students at Southside High School (San Antonio) sent a microbiology experiment up to the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment was designed to look at growth and spore forming ability of the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in microgravity. B. dendrobatidis causes chytridiomycosis, a devastating disease that has been decimating amphibian populations around the globe. High school students Lydia, Neco, and Carlos were concerned about the health of frogs and salamanders, and wanted to see if microgravity could inhibit B. dendrobatidis from replicating. The students discuss the process of getting an experiment onto the ISS with Dr. Bob McLean of Texas State San Marcos. Dr. McLean has previously sent up two different microbiology experiments into space, including one on the 2003 Columbia mission that exploded over Texas. The students talk about their interest in science, ideas about helping amphibians, and their experience sending an experiment into space. The MicroCase for listeners to solve is about Thor Ragnarok, an energetic Norwegian child who catches a strange disease from his pet bug Hammerhead.

 

Participants:

Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)

Jesus Romo (UTSA)

Lydia Araujo (Southside High School)

Neco Jimenez (Southside High School)

Carlos Gonzalez (Southside High School)

Samuel Ebong (Southside Independent School District)

Robert McLean, Ph.D. (Texas State University San Marcos)