Microbiome: How Commensal Bacteria can be Our Friends

A Talk by Dr. Deepshika Ramanan, Ph.D.


Most people associate the word ‘bacteria’ with disease, but we have more bacteria than human cells in our body.

Why do we have these bacteria? It is known as commensalism when one organism benefits from another other without affecting it. In this case, the human organism is benefitting from the bacteria. These commensal bacteria help us develop our immune system, digest and absorb food, and even prevent the colonization of other pathogenic bacteria, or bacteria that cause disease. However, imbalances in the populations of commensal bacteria are associated with several diseases, particularly inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. My work as a graduate student has focused on identifying these imbalances, and possible therapeutic options to prevent them.

Deepshika, or Shika, is a recent graduate student from the Sackler Institute at NYU School of Medicine.  She received her B.Sc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Winona State University in 2008. During the summer of 2007, she was awarded a fellowship to perform undergraduate research at the Mayo Clinic in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Bram where she was introduced to immunology. To prepare for a career in science, she worked as a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Edwin Chapman from 2008-2010, and then enrolled in the NYU School of Medicine Sackler Immunology and Inflammation Ph.D. program, where she works in the lab of Dr. Ken Cadwell. Shika recently received the prestigious Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award in recognition of her outstanding scientific contribution during her graduate studies.

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