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Does The Microbiome Hold The Key To Treating Parkinson’s, Autism & Other Diseases? CalTech Microbiologist Dr. Sarkis Mazmazian on The Gut-Brain Axis

By May 9, 2024No Comments
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Episode #831



Our bodies serve as elaborate scaffolds for a vast ecosystem of microorganisms whose far-reaching impacts we are only beginning to understand.

What if the key to unlocking some of the most perplexing neurological conditions lies not in the brain itself but in the complex world of our gut bacteria?

My guest today is Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, a prominent researcher on the connections between the gut microbiome and the brain. As the Luis B. and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology at Caltech, Dr. Mazmanian has dedicated his career to untangling the complex interplay of microbes, the immune system, and the nervous system. Dr. Mazmanian has received several awards, including the Searle Scholar, Young Investigator of the Year at Harvard Medical School, and the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award. He has been recognized by Discover Magazine as one of the “Best Brains in Science under 40” and by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News as a “Life Science Superstar.” He is also a founder of three biotech companies and advises on over a dozen Scientific Advisory Boards.

Through groundbreaking studies, his cutting-edge research has uncovered evidence that seemingly disparate conditions like Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and inflammatory bowel disease may have unexpected origins in the gut microbiome.

His work details the gut-brain axis—a bidirectional superhighway linking the trillions of bacteria in our digestive tract with the intricate neural circuitry that governs our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This connection suggests that the microbiome may have a powerful influence on conditions like anxiety and depression, influences that we are only beginning to comprehend fully.

“Microbiome health is tied to general health. Exercise, sleep, low stress, and a fiber-rich diet… do these things and you’ll have a healthy microbiome.”


Today, we cover his research on the gut microbiome’s role in neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration. Dr. Mazmanian explains the relationship between gut microbes and early-life microbial exposure’s impact on the adaptable adult microbiome. 

He addresses the challenges of translating microbiome-based therapeutic findings from animal models to humans and envisions personalized medicine’s future. Moreover, we explore the microbiome’s influence on drug efficacy, behavior, cravings, and maintaining gut health through diet.

We also cover the importance of fiber, a diverse plant-based diet, fecal transplants, lifestyle factors, and microbiome health.

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Dr. Mazmanian’s paradigm-shifting work and unique perspective promise to reshape our understanding of brain health, human behavior, and what it truly means to be sentient beings—a beautiful application of his brilliance.

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