By Matt Wood
Illustration by UChicago Creative
Alzheimer’s disease researcher Myles Minter still sounds a little surprised while describing the improbable group of researchers he is collaborating with these days—not just neuroscientists but also colleagues from fields as disparate as gastroenterology and marine biology.
A postdoctoral scholar in neurobiology, Minter and his advisor, Prof. Sangram Sisodia, wanted to take their Alzheimer’s research in an unexpected direction, exploring the link between bacteria in the digestive system and brain health. The resulting study broke new ground: It showed that a long-term course of antibiotics in mice weakened some of the telltale symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain, while at the same time producing marked changes in the makeup of their gut bacteria.
“I’ve been working with marine biologists who go deep-sea diving and take samples,” says Minter. “Previously I definitely would laugh at it, but once you put ideas together from different fields that largely have been believed to be segregated from one another, the possibilities are really amazing.”
This research marks one of the first collaborations coming out of the Microbiome Center, a joint effort by the University of Chicago, the Marine Biological Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory to support scientists who are developing applications and tools to understand and harness the capabilities of microbial systems across different fields. Read more …