Episode: Episode 20: Dr. Alessio Fasano discusses the gut microbiome and how it affects our health


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Episode 20: Dr. Alessio Fasano discusses the gut microbiome and how it affects our health
When Alessio Fasano entered medical school at the University of Naples (Italy) School of Medicine, his goal was to eliminate childhood diarrhea. Working with a mentor who’d studied the physiology of the gut, Fasano decided to focus on the microorganisms that cause diarrhea. That opened up his world to specialize in overall gut health, and Fasano became a leading expert in celiac disease and gluten-related disorders. Following medical school, Fasano spent three years at the Center for Vaccine Development in Baltimore, and later returned to the U.S. to pursue his career. Today the world-renowned gastroenterologist is chair of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment. He is also the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Fasano was the lead researcher of a seminal 2003 study showing that 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by gluten-induced damage to the small intestine. His book Gluten Freedom http://tinyurl.com/zdbcdkk has been hailed as “the groundbreaking roadmap to a gluten-free lifestyle.” He is also the author of “A Clinical Guide to Gluten-Related Disorders.” http://tinyurl.com/zbhme6j His lectures at IHMC “The Gut is Not Like Las Vegas,” (November 2014) http://tinyurl.com/o83y8xz and “People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone: People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone” http://tinyurl.com/pcssk5j have gotten over 70,000 views on YouTube. Fasano has been featured widely in media, such as NPR, CNN and Bloomberg News. In this episode of STEM-Talk, Fasano talks about his early life as a curious boy in Italy, with a scientist grandfather as his first mentor, the impassioned trajectory of his career, and the underlying importance of gut health in determining our overall health. 00:56: Dawn describes Fasano as “a leading light in the study of the microbiome.” Fifteen years ago, Fasano and his colleagues discovered the pathophysiology of celiac disease and role of the protein zonulin in causing it. 1:10: Ford cites growing evidence that the microbiome content of the intestinal tract influences our metabolism, stress tolerance, immune response, memory and cognitive performance. 2:56: Ford reads five-star iTunes review of STEM-Talk entitled “cognitive satiety:” “Never have all the lobes of your brain been so satisfied. Every episode is fascinating and beautifully orchestrated. The content is interesting and diverse. There’s no room for boredom. The double secret selection committee does a superb job of keeping the listeners educated, engaged and more intelligent with every minute. And the hosts have a linguistic seduction that you wish it would never end. I could listen to STEM-Talk for hours. Thank you, and please keep the talks coming.” 3:51: Dawn introduces Fasano as a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist. He specializes in treating people with celiac disease, wheat and gluten sensitivities, as well as infants and children with difficult to treat gastro-intestinal problems. 5:15: Dawn welcomes Alessio and Ken to the interview. 5:37: Fasano talks about his childhood in Italy. He was raised largely by his grandfather, a retired physicist who had once worked in Enrico Fermi’s lab. During World War II, Fasano’s grandfather refused to move to Germany as Mussolini had requested, so he ended up teaching high school science. 6:26: “I remember vividly being with him in his lab. [That] sparked an interest in physics and science.” 7:03: Fasano’s initial focus in medical school was eliminating childhood diarrhea— “not a glamorous field to get into.” At that time, five million people died annually from diarrhea, 80 percent of them children. 9:08: On his medical school mentor’s suggestion, Fasano went to the Center for Vaccine development in Baltimore to study micro-organisms in the gut.

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STEM-Talk > Episode 20: Dr. Alessio Fasano discusses the gut microbiome and how it affects our health

When Alessio Fasano entered medical school at the University of Naples (Italy) School of Medicine, his goal was to eliminate childhood diarrhea. Working with a mentor who’d studied the physiology of the gut, Fasano decided to focus on the microorganisms that cause diarrhea. That opened up his world to specialize in overall gut health, and Fasano became a leading expert in celiac disease and gluten-related disorders...

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