The gut microbiome has moved from a topic of curiosity to one of cutting-edge therapy in just over a decade. This swift evolution has catapulted the microbiome into the spotlight as one of 15 programming tracks introduced this year by AGA at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW).


Maria T. Abreu, MD, AGAF

“The gut microbiome affects human health in any number of ways,” said AGA Council Chair Maria T. Abreu, MD, AGAF, chief of gastroenterology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FL. “It began with a focus on inflammatory bowel diseases and grew with the realization that the microbiome affects every organ system, even at a distance. The focus has shifted away from identifying a single species of bacteria that is responsible for pathology, but rather the entire composition of the intestinal flora. AGA wants to make sure that gastroenterology remains the home of advances in microbiome research and the application of that research to human diseases.”

AGA recognized the potential of the microbiome when it created the AGA Center for Microbiome Research and Education a few years ago. Dr. Abreu, who helped create the new Microbiome in Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases program track, said whether you are a basic science researcher, translational researcher or clinician, there is microbiome programming just for you.

The track kicks off Saturday with a full day of programming dedicated to the microbiome in AGA’s Basic Science Zone, another new addition to DDW. The day begins with a research symposium titled Kiron and Kamala Das Symposium: Gut Bugs and Their Products: The Keys to Inflammatory Drive? Invited speakers will explore the latest findings about how the gut microbiome and metabolome affect systemic and intestinal inflammatory responses.

Three other Saturday highlights in the Basic Science Zone include a research-driven abstract session titled Microbiome Determinants of C. difficile Infection, a symposium titled “Microbiome: Structure and Function” and the research symposium “Understanding the Microbial Host Interaction.”

A special session Sunday afternoon will use gut microbiome profiles from AGA member volunteers to discuss the implications of the microbiome in human health and disease, and the capabilities and limitations of current DNA sequencing techniques and analytic tools. The session is titled “Active Learning Session on the Gut Microbiome: Fundamental Principles in Theory and Practice.”

There are also two full-day sessions on Sunday focused on the pancreas: The Microbiome and Pancreatitis, Pancreatic Malabsorption, etc. and Fecal Transplant Research.

Additional microbiome programming on Sunday includes the morning sessions Microbiota, FODMAP Diet and IBS and Gut Microbiome in Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders. There’s also a full slate of microbiome programming Sunday afternoon, including The Microbiome, Obesity and Diabetes: The Future for Translation to Human Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Is it Different Between East and West?

On Monday, sessions include Pediatric Gut Microbiome and Microbiology, and Updates on Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children.

Tuesday’s schedule features the DDW Combined Translational Symposium Manipulating the Microbiome to Treat Gastrointestinal Diseases. And hepatologists should take note of two other Tuesday sessions: The Microbiome and Liver Disease and The Intestinal Microbiome and Pediatric Liver Disease.

“Many of these sessions are focused on basic science, but scientists need to understand why their work is so important clinically and clinicians need to understand where the science is going,” Dr. Abreu said. “Putting the two together is what DDW does that no other meeting is even trying to accomplish. When it comes to novel findings about the microbiome and operationalizing research, we are the best.”

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the schedule-at-a-glance in each issue of DDW Daily News for the time and location of each day’s events.