There is a move towards probiotics that has resulted in a so-called yogurt craze: people are stocking their fridges with pints of yogurt and with bottles of Yakult, a Japanese probiotic drink. But isn’t probiotic food just traveling through your system without sticking to the wall of your gut? How do we know that probiotics is even doing anything? These are logical questions that microbio research is trying to answer. Martha Carlin, CEO of The Biocollective and Biocollective Research, says that we’re actually more microbial than we are human. The ratio now is about two to one cell count of microbes versus human cells. They focus on gut health and the human microbiome composed of trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea living in and on our body. The Biocollective connects their membership and the collected sample with the research world in order to accelerate discovery in the microbiome space and create solutions for gut health overall.
Tell me a little bit about your company and who you serve?
The BioCollective is a company that’s focused on gut health and the human microbiome. For people who don’t know what the human microbiome is, that’s the trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea that live in and on our body. We’re actually more microbial than we are human. The ratio now that they’ve agreed on is about two to one cell count of microbes versus human cells. The BioCollective connects our membership and the sample that we collect with the research world to try to accelerate discovery in the microbiome space and solutions to gut health overall. We have both a business to consumer side of the business and a business to business side.
I did a bit of homework before we did the show and for the audience that go, “Tell me more so I understand,” but before we go into the why of understand about the BioCollective, how did you get started? Are you a biologist by training?
I am not a biologist by training. I’m actually an accountant by training, but accounting is one of the original systems and I’m a systems thinker. In 2002, my young, 44-year-old husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and I looked at how science and medicine was approaching that problem. I said, “That’s never going to solve the problem or understand why. This is a complex problem and you have to take a systems approach.” I started teaching myself science on the side and over thirteen years, I started with the food supply, how we grow our food, nutrition, and then I moved into the human systems and got back into chemistry and biology and molecular biology and genetics and epigenetics. In 2014, I read a book by Dr. Martin Blaser of NYU called Missing Microbes and that was a big light bulb for me. He was talking about the age of antibiotics and how we have seen this rise in chronic diseases since antibiotics have been ubiquitous in the environment either from human prescribing or through use in animal feed and animal husbandry.
About two or three months after that, I met a young man who was looking for an investor in a company called Pure Cultures. His background was fermentation chemistry. I thought, “I’ll invest in that and I can learn a little bit about fermentation chemistry.” He had spent twenty years in the human nutraceuticals business, which most people won’t know. Most of the vitamins you buy off the shelf are actually fermented by bacteria and fungi in big vats in industrial operations. That was his expertise, but he was focused on the animal side of things. About two months after that, the first paper was published that correlated specific gut bacteria to the symptoms of Parkinson’s. I said, “Eureka, this is it. This connects to all this science I’ve been studying all these years.” I quit my job and started funding a research project at the University of Chicago with Dr. Jack Gilbert, who’s now my co-founder, and bouncing ideas back and forth with him. He has a son with autism and we started talking about how there were connections in the patterns in the gut with autistic children and people with Parkinson’s.
Then I met my third co-founder, Dr. Suzanne Vernon, who has a background in infectious disease and seventeen years at the CDC and working on complex disease like chronic fatigue. We saw patterns there as well. We said, “What’s holding back the research and discovery and our ability to solve these complex diseases?” Jack said, “It’s access to samples from the broad population and this is a difficult sample to get.” That’s because it’s a stool sample and people don’t want to think about that or deal with it, but if you go back to Hippocrates who said, “All disease begins in the gut,” I think that’s right. That’s the inspiration behind founding the company was building this in order to help find a cure for Parkinson’s for my husband, but also to connect the dots across complex disease.
I think about that moment and there’s a couple obviously, one, you get the diagnosis and then you’re down the trail of trying to figure out an A-ha moment. What was the reaction from your husband when you came home and say, “I think I’ve had my a-ha moment and I’m going to quit work and chase this full time?”
He’s always been very supportive of me and also believes that I am capable of finding a cure. When he saw that I was going to take all the energy that I had devoted to my previous careers that I was very successful in, he was pretty excited because he thought, “All this energy is now going to go into figuring out how to save me.”
Describe a little bit about Parkinson’s, at least as you understand Parkinson’s?
It’s a very complex disease. It’s a gradual decline of all the systems of the body, but at the core, the neurons and the dopamine system in the body that produces the signals that work the muscles in the body, all of those little pieces stopped working. Often, people will start with a tremor or something like that. There’s a loss of sense of smell, loss of taste, difficulty with vision sometimes, and focusing. Then over time the autonomic nervous system will slowly shut down. They’ll have trouble walking and talking. About 30% have a difficulty with cognition and memory. It’s pretty complicated and they often will call it a designer disease because one person could have these three symptoms and another person could have these five symptoms and they might only have two that overlap.
One of the most visible people that we know is Michael J. Fox.
He’s the poster child that everybody knows a lot more about it because of Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. Head injury can also be a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.
When you first started going down this path of discovery and you started getting connections to gut health, what changed in your household as far as diet or effect?
Back in 2002, when my husband was first diagnosed, I instinctively knew that food was part of the problem. I didn’t have the knowledge about the gut that I have now. Even back then, I cleaned out the pantry and everything that was processed went away and I tried to go all organic, but in 2002, it was pretty difficult to go all organic. There’s much more choice and availability now than there was back then. I’m a cook fortunately, so that helped. Then I started looking and saying, “If I can’t go all organic, then I need to understand the food supply that we have and try to make better choices around that.”
We eat a lot more fresh vegetables and things that we’ve cooked ourselves. We don’t eat processed food unless when you’re traveling sometimes that’s all there is available. We eat a lot less meat because there’s lot of antibiotics in the meat supply. We still do eat meat, but we’re very careful about making sure that that is meat from a source that doesn’t use antibiotics in the animals and it’s a healthy, clean diet of fruits and mostly vegetables and whole grains. We don’t eat bread much anymore because the preservatives in most of the bread on the shelf, there’s something called calcium propionate that is actually harmful to the gut and can cause a number of brain on fire issues because you will be making too much of a certain short chain fatty acid. That may actually be more of the problem people have with bread than gluten.
I’m fascinated the more I read and the more we talk, the more I’ve gotten fascinated. I started digging around and looking more. For some of the things that you’ve observed, there’s the move toward probiotics or eating yogurt or many of those approaches that people recognize and want to try to do something. What are your observations about the probiotic space and the yogurt craze?
Generally, I like yogurt, but what we’ve done in industrializing our food supply has limited the number of strains of bacteria that are used in those cultures in order to do large-scale industrial production. If you look back 100 years ago, people were making their own yogurt and they were using wild fermentation. There was a lot more variety in the strains of bacteria in the yogurt. What you find now on the shelf is most yogurts will have just a handful of tightly-controlled strains that are used for industrial production. I don’t eat a lot of the industrial yogurts. I actually make my own yogurt.
On the probiotic strain, you have the similar thing. If you walk into a store and they’ve got all these probiotics on the shelves and people will tell me, my eyes just glaze over and what I tell them is most of the probiotics on the shelf now are about the same. Two-thirds of them come from just two global manufacturers. One is Chr. Hansen out of Europe and the other is DuPont. Then there are some more boutique groups that provide some different strains, but the bulk of the things on the shelf are the same, which is part of our mission at the BioCollective is bringing back diversity and developing new strains for the probiotics market. We actually have one.
We were talking about that. It’s something that’s coming up. Before I go too far down that road, if folks are interested in learning more, how do they find you and your company?
They can find us on the web at www.TheBioCollective.com. They can also find us on Twitter @TBCMicrobes. You can find me on LinkedIn, Martha Carlin, and the BioCollective is also on LinkedIn and soon we’ll be on Instagram.
There are some things that you can do to help the audience and one of them is something you’re excited about and you’re in the patent process.
We have what we call a functional probiotic where we’re putting back a system. It’s different from the probiotics you see on the shelf now, which will maybe be a bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, which if you’ve looked at probiotics, those are the common genus that you’ll see. We have actually added some other strains of bacteria that are from the food industry, so they’re generally regarded as safe, but you don’t typically see them in a probiotic formula. This particular formula has shown to improve regularity. It’s a nice probiotic if you have a problem with constipation and it’s also effective in helping with glucose metabolism. It takes a both fructose and glucose, which we get way too much of in the western diet down a different pathway to make a different sugar. We think that it’s going to be quite popular because it’s very different in the feedback from the people who’ve tried it has been great.
If somebody wants to find out when it hits the market and they’re interested, they can find you or find that where?
If you’re interested, we can follow up with you when it’s on the market, which we believe will be in November. If you just email us at Info@TheBioCollective.com, we will send you a coupon to buy it when it’s available.
All disease begins in the gut.
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I’ve read few things about probiotics, coming in one way, coming in refrigerated and so on. What are the general misconceptions out there about probiotics and what they do and what they don’t do?
There’s a lot of misconceptions or just lack of understanding. The research on a couple of strains is pretty extensive showing how effective they are in triggering the immune system. They help with your immune system. There’s a group in Japan that makes the liquid probiotic Yakult. They’ve got a lot of research behind the strains in Yakult and what that does. I actually know somebody who was having some serious digestive problems and took it and within six hours of taking it was gone.
There’s also this misconception that just because it’s traveling through the system and it doesn’t stick to the wall of your gut that it’s not doing anything. If you know anything about fermentation science, there’s this virtuous cycle in the world of microbes where one dies and feeds the next one. That’s what we’re starting to learn in the microbial world with probiotics is even the dead cell wall of the probiotic after it dies going through your gut, it is sending signals to your immune system.
Stepping back, we were chatting before and for folks that there’s a great deal of interest in this field, you’ve got some projects potentially with some research groups. Can you talk about them?
We developed this kit. One of the ways to understand what’s going on in your gut is to take a look at your stool sample. It’s a difficult sample to collect because people don’t want to deal with it. Actually for the first six months after we founded the company, we spent our time working on and designing a kit that would make it easy, ick-free, and even a little bit humorous, so that you can collect your sample at home. We have a little hammock that sits on your toilet and it gets the entire sample.
You pick up the arms and drop it in the two bags. We have an ice brick. You FedEx it to us on ice, and then we that sample and divide it up into sub-samples. One of those samples goes off to sequencing and we provide data back to you about what’s in your gut and how you might be able to adjust your diet or do some things or where some risk points might be for you. It’s not a diagnostic of anything, we’re careful to say that, but it is a pretty extensive learning tool and something that you could take to a physician and talk to them about.
We take your sample that’s been divided up and we sell those subsamples to different researchers. One sample could have many different kinds of research done on it. More data to be able to learn faster. That’s one of those benefits. Then we share back with you the net profit off the sale of your sample. What we’re also doing in those samples is isolating and culturing new strains of bacteria. From our larger membership group, if we discover a new strain of bacteria that might be interesting in a probiotic and we take that through the regulatory process of what’s called generally regarded as safe and take that to market, we would also be sharing those revenues with our membership.
Our kit, because it is so easy to use and people are a lot more compliant with providing the sample, we’re actually working with academic institutions to use our kit for their larger research projects. We’re currently selling kits to the University of Chicago, the National University of Singapore, and we’re in discussions right now with Harvard to do some of the components of our kit. We’re starting to take the kit to the world as an easy way to be able to collect that sample.
The reason we bring up education is there’s a great deal of interest. As everyone might imagine, collecting a stool sample usually looks like a plastic jar and a tongue depressor. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with either, but neither paints a good picture, the reluctance to take and furnish When you were talking about membership, how does one become a member?
To become a member, you just come to TheBioCollective.com and join. There’s a two-step process where you complete the first step and there’s a consent to be involved in research. You complete the consent and once that’s done, you’ll get an email confirmation. Once you confirm your membership, then you can go into your dashboard, you can order a kit, and they’re available for purchase. They are a fairly high-end kit. The mid-point kid is $549. The high-end kit is $899. Then we have a low-end kit that’s $189. You don’t get as much information with that lower-end kit.
What you can do, you can become a member and you don’t have to order a kit. You answer the survey questions. We send out life and health history survey questions. If in your survey data, you qualify for one of the studies where we have a researcher who’s interested in some of the characteristics that you have, then we will provide you with a free kit. If you’re willing to wait for some period of time until there’s a researcher interested in somebody like you, then you can get a kit for free.
We were talking to and you were generous to offer for the mid-level kit that if you have a code, and it’s BLP250, that qualifies the first 200?
The first 200 people can get $250 off that midpoint kit.
I think about the whole process, you guys are collecting this data and there hasn’t been a robust amount of data collected, has there?
There was a project in the United States called the Human Microbiome Project that went from 2008 to 2012 if I have the dates right, and a similar project in Europe where they did a larger scale population study. There’s been a large population study in Belgium and another one in China. We’re starting to get larger data sets, but this is I’d say twelve to fifteen years ago. There wasn’t even the term the microbiome. It’s the fastest accelerating area of research around the globe, not just the human microbiome but also the earth microbiome, and the built environment microbiome. We are surrounded by this microbial world and we’re just beginning to understand that. On an order of magnitude, yes, there hasn’t been very much data collected.
I think about the challenge and you hit it right on the head is the ick factor. It’s like many of the things, if you can’t get the data, that’s the data point. With this kit that you put together and developed, that takes and addresses that part of the challenge. For the future of your company, what’s got you fired up about what you are doing?
I’m very fired up about the progress we’re making in Parkinson’s. We have found some pretty interesting connections we think to life health history, some infection history, and use of antibiotics. We were able to confirm through a large dataset that actually there is a higher risk of Parkinson’s in people who’ve had four or more strep infections and taken repeated course of antibiotics. We’ve also built an artificial intelligence learning model that right now has about a 92% accuracy rate in predicting the Parkinson’s in the sample.
What we’re hoping to do with that is to start to collect samples from people with Parkinson’s who have not started taking medications yet, so that then we could say if there’s a difference between people on medication or not on medication and then have another predictor and then be able to do an early diagnostic and take that through. That would have to go through the FDA, but have some early diagnostic where we could turn people back. If we see that they have an indication in their gut ecosystem that they’re at risk for Parkinson’s, we could turn them back early by regenerating the health of the gut. That we’re pretty excited about.
We’re excited overall in the population samples that we’re getting. We have about 50% healthy and 50% people with various diseases. We’re seeing some patterns, a lot of people with thyroid issues, which I’ve said is maybe the canary in the coal mine and starting to see some connections across some diseases. I don’t know if people follow Alzheimer’s, but there’s been a quite a bit coming out about Alzheimer’s potentially being a complex poly-microbial infection and that the plaques, they get in the brain with Alzheimer’s could potentially be the immune system trying to sequester the infection. There’s a researcher out of Harvard who’s published some information about that. I think it was 25 or 30 top Alzheimer’s researchers came out and said, “We believe that this is the case.” They’re doing sampling and looking at complex infection as a possible avenue for Alzheimer’s. That’s pretty exciting as well.
It feels like the tip of the iceberg. For the audience, we all shower regularly, wash our hands regularly, and you go, “What do you mean were covered up with critters?” Our gut, we don’t think about it a whole lot. What’s your broad opinion of what happens to our microbiome after a course of antibiotics?
There are lots of research on this actually in the book, Missing Microbes, that I mentioned that set me down this path. It talks about that quite a bit, and they’ve done a lot of mouse model studies showing you have a resilience in your microbiome to some extent where you can take a course of antibiotics and it will rebound 30 to 45 days later. As you have in any ecosystem, if you continue to perturb it with antibiotics, it gets less resilient over time. Depending on what antibiotic you’re taking, some of Dr. Blaser’s research has shown that in some types of antibiotics, it does not recover. They’ve also shown that there’s a difference in these mouse model studies where post antibiotics, the mouse that had the antibiotics on the same calorie load is the one that didn’t have the antibiotics will load 20% more fat on the same diet.
If we take a step back and think logically about that and see what we’ve done in our chicken, pork and cattle, they use antibiotics as growth promoters. Basically, what that means is we want them to get fat faster. If we look at the chronic level of obesity we have and this epidemic level where people are trying to lose weight and they are not able to do it, I personally believe that the pervasiveness of antibiotics in our food supply and the overuse of it in orally prescribed antibiotics that’s destroying the gut microbiome is a big contributor to obesity, allergies, asthma, and all of these chronic diseases. If you want to learn more about it, Dr. Blaser’s book Missing Microbes is a great book. There’s a book called The Good Gut, by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg out of Stanford. That’s also a good book that can help you learn a bit more about that and they talk about antibiotics.
Looking down the road, how do you see your company progressing over the next three to five years? What do you think is on the horizon?
I see finding a cure to Parkinson’s. I hope we’ll go down that same path with MS and Alzheimer’s and some of these other complex diseases where we’ve previously been taking this point solution approach to a complex problem. What we’re going to find is in order to restore health, we’re going to have to do something that is equivalent to regenerative farming. If you buy a farm with depleted soil and the plants aren’t getting nutritional uptake and not growing well, you’re not going to be able to go out tomorrow and plant some seeds in there and make it work.
You’re going to have to do some restoration of organic matter and that things to rebuild the soil. That’s how I talk about the gut and how I say in three to five years, we’re going to say medicine moving to where people will take a kit like what we’ve developed and they will look at their gut two or three times a year, especially if they’ve had foreign travel or some illness that has been disruptive. They’ll take a look and they’ll want to proactively manage their health through their gut. We see this as the future of medicine. Within a decade, physicians will have to treat the gut first before they start handing you all these other pills because all those pills also impact how the gut ecosystem is working.
I think about farming and if you farm and you don’t do a soil sample first, then you don’t know. The uptake is bad. You don’t know what your PH level is. There are a lot of things and it makes so much sense to people that farm. You think about, “If we had a cattle herd, we’d be interested in nutrition uptake, what affects their absorption, the weight gain, the whole bid,” and this is no different.
We’re actually applying a lot of the science that has been done for years in farming and agriculture animals to how we’re thinking about looking at the gut. We’re taking some of those other areas where we’ve had a lot of knowledge and just trying to say, “People are not that different.”
Let’s say that there’s somebody out there that goes, “I have a loved one that has some particular illness and I want to solve it.” You’ve gone down this road of basically taking your hands and said, “I’m going to make a difference.” What advice would you offer to that person that’s considering trying to go down the path that you’ve gone down?
I tell people it takes persistence and a lot of time. You have to want to learn, but you can teach yourself anything. It does take a little bit of money, but a lot of information now is free. Scientific information is a little bit more difficult to get to. It’s surprising how much of the research that is paid for by our tax dollars is actually hiding behind a paywall, but if you go to a good university library, you can get your hands on it. That’s a bit of a challenge, but I say anybody can solve any problem if they put their mind to it.
If there’s a disease that you’re interested in and it’s not something we’re currently focused on, the other thing that you mentioned at the beginning, I also have BioCollective Research and that’s a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and it was set up specifically for anyone who has an interest in a specific disease, where they would like to fund some research using the microbiome is the base of that research. Then they can donate the money to the BioCollective Research as a nonprofit and we can find the key researchers who are working on that specific disease in the microbiome and then work that sample through the pipeline and help somebody with that discovery.
In order to restore health, we're going to have to do something that is equivalent to regenerative farming.
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I find it remarkable that you went from success in the corporate arena and basically had a gear shift to say the least. Going down the road, you have the opportunities with major research organizations for your kit. You’re going to have a potential product coming out in November, what other things that I failed to ask you about your company should everyone know that perhaps we didn’t cover?
One of the things that we are doing is building this big data platform. We’re also a data company. We’re not just going to keep all of the data to ourselves. We are building a platform where researchers will be able to access our data and also help to make those connections. By participating in the BioCollective, becoming a member and answering those surveys, you’re going to help accelerate those discoveries. The other thing, it’s not available now, but we’re building for our members something called the Life Health Timeline. For me, that was part of how I came to understand some of those pieces of the puzzle in Parkinson’s, was by interviewing people and understanding their life story. People intuitively know often what’s connected to when they became sick. I’ve talked to several people with Crohn’s and they can tell me to the day, “This is what happened and I have never been well since.” I know these two things are connected.
What is Crohn’s?
Crohn’s is an autoimmune type disease of the colon where there’s inflammation and some very serious digestive issues, inability to uptake nutrients, and they’ll often have to have multiple surgeries to remove sections of their colon.
As you collect this data over the life cycle, there are folks that are sitting and they go, “That was me.” What do they do with that? What would you recommend they do?
One of the things that we want to do with this Life Health Timeline is to have a quick, easy visual way for someone to show a physician, print it off and show them, “This is my life story.” If you think back 50 years ago, our physicians or our parents’ physicians, they knew our family history. They knew our life history. The way we are mobile now, we don’t stay where we grew up. We have a specialist doctor for this and a specialist doctor for that, so we don’t have anybody who really knows our whole life story. You go into the doctor and they have you fill out all the forms. You go in and you have seven minutes to sit down with them.
They haven’t had time to read and understand your life story, but people think in pictures. We believe if we can present that life story in a quick visual that highlights key stressors, infections, medications, dietary things, there’ll be some key color coded things, then somebody can visually go, “I see.” You could point out to your doctor, “I think this is when my problem started.” What we hear from a lot of people is they’ll say that to a doctor and they get brushed off or ignored. Either they think it’s not related, but when you start to paint the picture for them, they can more readily see how those things could be connected.
Circling back to the baseline, healthy gut, where does one find a baseline gut?
That’s what we’re trying to develop with these large population sets, is to get more healthy people. It’s a lot easier to get somebody who’s not well to give you a sample than it is a healthy person because they’re like, “I don’t need to do that,” but the more healthy samples that we have, the easier it is for us to see what’s the difference in that healthy sample and these people who are not well, and then be able to understand what maybe needs to be put back. There’s a company called OpenBiome out of Boston.
It’s a nonprofit that does something called a fecal microbiota transplant. There’s a hospital infection called C. difficile that’s become pretty widespread and what they found is the best treatment for that is a fecal transplant. It’s a stool transplant from a healthy person. They actually screen people from the population looking for people who are healthy and then they pay them to provide samples and those samples are used as cures for people. There’s a company called Rebiotix that is working on fecal transplant through the FDA as a preparation.
The visual is breathtaking to say the least, but makes sense.
If you go back 4,000 or 5,000 years ago into China, that was actually one of the remedies in China. They had something called yellow soup that was from a healthy infant’s stool that they gave to people who had gastrointestinal problems. We go full circle back to some of the ancient wisdom, Hippocrates and Chinese medicine.
In the kitchen, if you have sourdough, you have a starter. If you want new starter?
You just take a little piece. I’m going to use that. That’s a really great example.
Nobody thinks about it, “That starter is whatever.”
That starter is a microbial soup in a beer, in a sourdough bread, in the gut.
For the folks that are out there going, “I don’t know,” think about anybody that’s had a pretty stringent antibiotic course and yeast infections that occur. One goes hand-in-hand with the other and it just disturbs everything.
You get this imbalance in the ecosystem. That whole ecosystem keeps each other in check. When you have an ecosystem, it’s back to the farming thing. If you have a healthy farm and healthy soil, you’re going to have a lot fewer weeds, but if you overwork the soil and don’t take good care of it, you end up with a lot of weeds.
Any parting advice that you would offer either about the business or whatever you want to talk about?
I do think that probiotics are going to be more advanced. Probiotics are going to be one of the future tools of medicine as I think fecal transplant will be used in more diseases than just the C. diff infection. It’s a wise thing when you’re healthy to take a sample and look at what it looks like while you feel good, so that at some point down the line if you start not feeling well, then you have something to compare it to. If you’re not looking before you are sick, you don’t know what your healthy state was like. I like to encourage people who are healthy to take a look too.
I think about the price point and the traffic into many of the health stores. The price point and baseline is inexpensive compared to a couple of nights out at a nice restaurant.
That’s true and that the information that you’re getting in our cost, just our sequencing cost alone, is over $300 for a sample. The cost of genomic sequencing is dropping, like computers did over time. In the next three to five years we’ll see the cost of what we’re doing now drop, but it’s pretty expensive and time-consuming to deal with the volumes of data and things that we’re getting, but as those tools develop and accelerate, those costs are going to come down and the speed with which you can get the information is going to come down as well.
The other thing that I would say is if you are thinking about having any elective surgery, we have an increase in hospital infections. One of the things that we do look at is the antibiotic resistance genes that are in your sample. I’ve been telling people if they were going to have elective surgery, I would do it so I could see what kind of antibiotic resistance I have. In the event I’m going to have surgery, then I have at least some information I could provide a physician if I do get an infection. “I know that I have these antibiotic resistance genes.”
I appreciate you taking time out of your day.
Thank you so much for having me.
Martha has the unique ability to connect seemingly unrelated things to solve problems in new ways. Her study of genetics, nutrition, biology, chemistry, neuroscience and epigenetics began in 2002 when her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Martha saw the gut’s connection to chronic disease after reading Dr. Martin Blaser’s Missing Microbes in 2014, later connecting it to Dr. Filip Scheperjans’ research on the microbiome and PD. She is a seasoned and successful executive, a systems thinker, and a creative problem solver. Martha is an investor in We Are Curious, a personal health data management and discovery platform and in Pure Cultures, an agricultural probiotics technology company. While revolutionaries are known to overthrow old ways of thinking, Martha does this in her sleep.
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