In This Video
- Bacteria and other microorganisms that live in our gut play a specific role in how we metabolize foods, how we take molecular cues from our environment and how we are impacting our basic physiology
- Insights into how important our gut microbial communities are to our health are critical for the next phase of treatments and preventative interventions for a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, digestive diseases and cancer
- Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, is chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit in the Department of Medicine and vice chief for clinical research in the Division of Gastroenterology
- In this video, he discusses his team's research on the role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease
Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH is the chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit in the Department of Medicine and vice chief for clinical research in the Division of Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and director of cancer epidemiology in the Mass General Cancer Center. In this video, he discusses his team's research on the role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease.
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The Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at Mass General is a research division we started to effectively translate clinical interventions to patients based on epidemiological studies. We're specifically focused on areas of science in which we take large population-scale evidence and try to make it more relevant to the clinical scenario and for clinical patient populations. One area that we're incredibly excited about is how we can clinically translate cutting-edge research that we've been doing on the role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease.
I think we've become more and more aware over the last several years that those bacteria and other microorganisms that live naturally in our gut are actually doing more than just hanging along for the ride. They're actually playing a specific role in how we metabolize foods, how we really take molecular cues from our environment and how we also are impacting our basic physiology. So I think taking those basic new insights that we have into how important our gut microbial communities are in our human health is really critical for the next phase of treatments and preventative interventions for a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and other digestive diseases.
So we're incredibly excited now about translating what we're learning in the laboratory into the clinic, and it's through places like Mass General where we're able to take the risk in doing those types of studies, which I think in the next several years will have an important impact on public health.
While we do understand that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in terms of disease prevention, a lot of medicine at this point is being focused on how do we better treat conditions when people develop them, how do we better deliver therapies, and while that's all very important, we do understand that an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure so if we can actually prevent diseases from occurring in the first place—we can actually have a broader public health impact and also really create some benefit for society as a whole.
We know preventing disease can lower costs for the health care system can also affect more individuals and have an impact that stretches beyond effective treatment. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research being done in disease prevention; there are also very few resources being focused on disease prevention. So research at Mass General and research in my group will hopefully be examples of how disease prevention research can be important and can have an important impact.
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