Grad Students Swap Ideas and Share Research

A new generation of biomedical scientists swapped ideas, shared results of their research projects and explored the frontiers of science at the 2019 Southern California Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Symposium at Cedars-Sinai.

Keynote speaker Sarkis Mazmanian, PhD, the Luis and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discussed his research on the gut microbiome at the 2019 Southern California Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Symposium at Cedars-Sinai.

Keynote speaker Sarkis Mazmanian, PhD, the Luis and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discussed his research on the gut microbiome at the 2019 Southern California Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Symposium at Cedars-Sinai.

The annual, daylong symposium on Oct. 4 drew about 160 attendees from 18 institutions, with 78 of the students registering to present posters of their work. It was organized by the Cedars-Sinai Graduate Student Association.

The event promoted communication among graduate students and provided opportunities to interact with experts in the scientific community and the biomedical industry. The keynote address also was about communication — specifically, the biological signaling between the human gut and the brain.

Keynote speaker Sarkis Mazmanian, PhD, the Luis and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discussed his research on the gut microbiome, a hot topic in the biomedical community. The microbiome is the complex and densely populated microbial world that lives inside the human intestinal system, or gut.

"The gut—some have called it the 12th organ—has the metabolic capacity of the liver, and its weight is very similar to that of the adult human brain," Mazmanian said. ­"Events in the gut can be transmitted via signals to the brain, and brain functions can lead to signals that affect function in the gut."

Mazmanian said scientists hope to utilize this information highway to develop new therapies for diseases. "We are interested in how microbes affect different processes in the gut, and ultimately being able to deliver drugs to the gut to get beneficial effects in the brain," he explained. This type of drug routing has the potential to avoid the blood-brain barrier, a structure that can prevent therapeutic drugs from entering brain tissue.

Michael Workman of Cedars-Sinai won the 2019 Dr. Leon G. Fine Young Investigator Award for his oral presentation.

Michael Workman of Cedars-Sinai won the 2019 Dr. Leon G. Fine Young Investigator Award for his oral presentation.