Mark Seielstad


Research Objectives

Perform a microbiome-wide association study in at least 50 T2D cases and 50 healthy controls enrolled in Manila and 50 cases and 50 healthy controls enrolled in San Francisco (N = 200 total); with replication in 200 additional individuals (N=400 total for both stages – or more, pending funding amounts). Only recently has the scale and intimacy of our commensalism with a vast microbial community, mainly in the gut, become appreciated. Attention has focused mostly on the immunological implications, as when this commensalism goes awry in the form of inflammatory bowel disease. Given the centrality of these commensals to the digestion and uptake of food, hypotheses about the likelihood of their impact on metabolic conditions like obesity and T2D have been gaining compelling empirical support. The microbial composition of the digestive tract -- both a consequence of diet, and a mediator of the metabolic consequences of that diet – will be determined by next generation sequencing.

Independent of any causal or incidental role of the microbiome in metabolic disease risk, the effects of host genotype and place of residence and birth on human microbiome composition will be ascertained. The possibility that therapeutic manipulation of the gut microbiome by changes in diet or probiotic supplementation might be effective in reducing the risk of obesity and T2D is an exciting possible outcome of this highly novel line of research.

Why This Project?

This study is one of a kind and unlike any other at the moment. Most human-associated microbiome studies focus on disease states as the healthcare moves toward personalized therapy and medicine, while sports science studies generally focus on improving outputs i.e. timed-performance, strength and conditioning. Not only does this project display the potential to change how researcher's study sports science and human-associated microbiomes, but it has the potential to profitable through patenting.

About the Researcher

Dr. Seielstad’s research bridges epidemiology and population genetics. The main goal is to identify human genetic variation altering the risk of complex diseases involving immunity (e.g., autoimmunity and susceptibility to infectious diseases) and metabolism (e.g., type 2 diabetes). This puts an emphasis on technologies such as SNP genotyping, and next-generation sequencing to reveal and characterize polymorphisms in genome-scale data. Much of this work is carried out in geographically diverse human populations, which are also the subject of anthropological investigations that seek to characterize the global distribution of genetic variation. Dr. Seielstad received undergraduate degrees in Biology and Classics at Stanford University and was awarded his Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University, where he also served on the faculty. From 2002-2009 Dr. Seielstad was Associate Director at the Genome Institute of Singapore before moving to the University of California San Francisco where he is now Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Laboratory Medicine, and Human Genetics.

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