Benefits: Gut Microbiome Research Project Fund
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Does physical activity improve gut health and lower your risk for diabetes and heart attacks? You can help us discover the answer on Give to the Max Day!

University research aims to understand the influence of physical activity on the gut microbiome – and in turn, to examine if improved gut health can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart attacks. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes continue to be leading causes of death in the United States. Increased physical activity helps prevent diabetes and heart attacks, but the biological mechanism of how activity reduces disease risk, and how the effects vary between individuals, remains unclear.

Recently, the human microbiome has emerged as a new frontier in health sciences research that might help explain how health behaviors, such as exercise, translate into disease. The human microbiome is the collection of microbes residing in and on the human body. The vast number of genes carried by our microbes endows them with great capacity to perform useful functions. Just as microbes can help ‘eat away’ an oil spill, they have numerous other capabilities, many of which might be beneficial to human health. For example, some microbes in the digestive tract have the ability to extract energy from our diet while others can convert nitrates found in vegetables into nitric oxide which is important for maintaining good cardiovascular health.

Your gift will help us explore whether increased physical activity on the job can change the composition of your gut microbiome. Imagine if taking the stairs instead of the elevator or standing while checking e-mail could help your beneficial gut microbes thrive and in turn help lower your cardiovascular risk.

Help us get this research off the ground!  

  • $25 will support the purchase of a collection kit for one study participant.
  • $50 pays for a collection kit and laboratory processing and analysis necessary to identify which bacteria are present.

Our goal is to collect and analyze gut microbiome data from 100 participants. Results from our pilot study will be used to design large-scale intervention studies to improve cardiometabolic health by leveraging the potential of the microbiome through increased activity levels. 

This research is led by Dr. Ryan Demmer and Dr. Mark Pereira. Drs. Demmer and Pereira have a longstanding interest in understanding how to reduce diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the population.

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