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BU Bioinformatics Professor Daniel Segrè Elected AAAS Fellow

Daniel Segrè: Using Microbes to Improve Health, Fight Climate Change

Your body is full of little colonies of microbes—some working in your favor, helping you digest food and fight off disease; some working against you, contributing to obesity or diabetes. The communities they form are known as microbiomes, and they exist just about everywhere on Earth—in plants, animals, rivers, the atmosphere.

Segrè, a CAS and Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences professor of biology, bioinformatics, biomedical engineering, and physics was honored by AAAS for his contributions to studying and decoding these microbial ecosystems—and for testing ways to shape them to improve human and environmental health.

“A lot of our work is aimed at understanding how these communities function,” says Segrè, who founded the cross-disciplinary BU Microbiome Initiative, “and whether we can predict them using mathematical models and computer simulations, which would help us modify them or design new ones from scratch.”

By researching microbial metabolism—the chemical reactions that help these microscopic organisms spark into life and generate energy—Segrè hopes to map the “specific combinations of bacteria or metabolic functions in the human microbiome that are good for us and understand how to steer microbiomes toward stable health-promoting states, for example by tweaking available nutrients.” He says the same approach could also be used to benefit the environment, perhaps by helping microbes associated with plants better lock away CO2. 


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