The Human Microbiome
Do the millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes in your body constitute an 11th human organ?
Published August 19, 2013
The human body contains 10 times more microbial cells than human cells. Since the 1990s, scientists working on the Human Microbiome Project have worked to identify, name, and categorize these microscopic organisms, uncovering in their research the important role these tiny creatures play in our health and well-being. Interacting with each other and our bodies, these bugs, for example, affect the amount of energy we burn, how much fat we store, may induce or relieve mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and train our immune system to fight off infection and diseases from "bad" bugs that may enter our system.
Explore the following Academy resources, including an upcoming symposium on the latest research on the microbiome, and decide for yourself if you will start calling these tiny organisms your 11th organ.
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 22,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.