Importance of the Human Microbiome

Importance of the Human Microbiome

Lynn Bry, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Metagenomics, Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains what the human microbiome is, how it impacts our health and research being conducted to further understand the its role in the development of disease.

The human microbiome comprises the group of microorganisms that live on us and within us. The human body contains one times ten to the fourteenth cells, yet fewer than 10 percent of these are human cells; the other 90 percent of cells represent bacteria and other organisms that are living in the gut, in the mouth, and on the skin.

The human microbiome impacts our health in many ways.  It provides micronutrients such as Vitamin K, which aid in blood clotting. Microbiota also produce a variety of B vitamins, assist in our digestion and mature our immune systems. 

Disruptions to the human microbiome can make us susceptible to diseases such as food allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Alterations in diet and antibiotic exposure are two common factors that can alter the human microbiome.  

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers are studying the role of the human microbiome in the development of food allergies and susceptibility to infections from pathogens such as clostridium difficile

Learn more about biomedical research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Read the Human Microbiome video transcript.

Created by

Brigham and Women's Physician Resource Center

Related Presenters

Lynn Bry, MD

Lynn Bry, MD

Director, Crimson Specimen Bank