October 16-17, 2018 | Lincoln, Nebraska
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2018 NRIC speakers
portrait of Emma Allen-Vercoe


Emma Allen-Vercoe
University of Guelph
Can we use bugs as drugs? Restoring the gut microbiota with 'Microbial Ecosystem Therapeutics'
The human gut microbiota is now recognized to be extremely important in the maintenance of human health, yet there are many aspects of modern living that erode its diversity and function with potential implications in many diseases. Fecal microbial transplants are quickly gaining attention in the clinical sphere as a way to replace missing microbes and restore functions that may have been lost. However, it is extremely difficult to regulate stool-based medicine, and the practice is not without risk. In this talk I will discuss our efforts to create pure microbial ecosystems derived from the gut and to develop these as novel therapeutics, as a potential way to improve the safety and palatability of the approach.
Emma Allen-Vercoe, Ph.D., obtained her BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of London, and her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology through an industrial partnership with what is now Public Health England. Her lab at the University of Guelph focuses on trying to culture the so-called ‘unculturable’ microbes of the human gut in order to better understand their biology. To do this, she developed a lab specializing in anaerobic bacteriology along with a model gut system (dubbed ‘Robogut’) to emulate the conditions of the human gut and allow communities of microbes to grow together, as they do naturally. Emma holds a University Research Leadership Chair and her lab currently runs many projects that are broad in nature, but united under the banner of human microbiome research. In 2013, Emma co-founded NuBiyota, a research spin-off company that aims to create therapeutic ecosystems as biologic drugs, on a commercial scale. The research enterprise for this company is also based in Guelph.