Our lab group is committed to promoting microbiome fluency for individuals from all disciplines and the lay public. We do this in part through formal coursework, seminar series, an annual symposium, and scientific outreach. These efforts are both rewarding and essential to train the next generation of scientists capable of advancing our knowledge of the many ways our microbial co-conspirators influence human health and disease. Teaching also informs the science we do, helping us to zoom out and identify grand conceptual and technological challenges.

Formal coursework

Medical students: Microbiome-based medicine (UCSF Bridges Curriculum). This course aims to give medical students an overview about the rapid advances in microbiome research over the past two decades, linking microbial communities to both the etiology and treatment of disease. We will discuss the implications of this research for clinical studies, and the potential for using microbiome datasets to stratify patients in a manner that could help to guide clinical interventions. Course directors: Renuka Nayak, Vaibhav Upadhyay, and Peter Turnbaugh.

Graduate students:

Fundamentals of Microbiome Research (UCSF Minicourse Schedule). A crash course into the experimental and computational techniques for studying and manipulating complex microbial communities. Learn why microbiome research is revolutionizing many traditional disciplines and changing our concept of what it means to be human. Topics include 16S rRNA sequencing, metagenomics, and gnotobiotics. Classes are structured to minimize didactic lectures to favor in-depth discussions of recent papers, hands-on bioinformatics tutorials, scientific debates, and experimental design. Course directors: Suzanne Noble and Peter Turnbaugh.

How to be(come) a PI​ (UCSF Minicourse Schedule). This class demystifies the life of a Principle Investigator. The format involves brief didactic lectures and in-depth discussions with faculty across multiple disciplines. Students learn what it took for them to succeed and how to avoid their mistakes in their own career. Topics of discussion will include choosing research projects, securing funding, teaching, mentoring, campus leadership, and outreach. Course director: Peter Turnbaugh.

Seminar series

Microbiome Research-in-progress Talks. Originally a joint lab meeting between the Pollard and Turnbaugh labs, this event has grown to be a monthly series of research-in-progress talks open to all UCSF trainees and faculty. Lunch is provided. UCSF employees can sign-up for our list-serve here, including notifications about networking events, bioinformatics tutorials, guest lectures, and other special events.

The iMicro program is an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental program dedicated to studying and providing research training in host-pathogen interactions (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites) in relation to human disease. Our weekly seminar series (10am Tuesdays, Parnassus/zoom) includes a mix of invited speakers from outside UCSF and research-in-progress talks from students, postdocs, and faculty.

Annual symposia

The “Bay Area Microbial Pathogenesis Symposium” (BAMPS). BAMPS was initiated in 1998 and has been held every year since then except for 2020 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This one-day symposium is open to all researchers in the greater Bay Area interested in Microbial Pathogenesis and Microbes in Health and Disease. The symposium consists of ~15 short talks (15 minutes) given by trainees and PIs, 2 poster sessions, and a keynote seminar given by a leader in the field. Organized by Shaeri Mukherjee, Babak Javid, and Peter Turnbaugh.

Annual Microbiome Center SymposiumPrior sympsoia have focused on early childhood development (2022) and Precision Medicine (2022), including distinguished speakers from around the world. This year's symposium (10/17/23), we will highlight microbiome research from Northern California, including pioneering studies on both host-associated and environmental ecosystems.

Scientific Outreach

FAQ: Human Microbiome (2014). The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better understand the identities and activities of the microbial species comprising the human microbiome, microbiologists hope to draw connections between microbiome composition, host genetics, and human health. 

Our research group routinely participates in evening science education events at the California Academy of Sciences. See the Nightlife website for upcoming events. Recent topics related to the microbiome have included Nutrition, Fermented Foods, and the Micro[scopic] world.

Microbiome meet-ups. SF Microbiome is a San Francisco community of those interested in the microbiome and metagenomics in San Francisco and where the future is headed. There are 100 associated genes within our microbiome for every 1 human gene we have. Greater than 100 trillion microorganisms live in our gut, mouth, skin and other surfaces of our bodies. With how quickly sequencing technologies have been advancing, we can learn not only how these microorganisms influence human health and disease, but also about how it impacts areas such as agriculture, the environment, forensics, etc.