University of Oregon


First META Center Symposium on Host-Microbe Systems Biology


The first META Center Symposium on Host-Microbe Systems Biology, held in Eugene last weekend, brought together scientists from diverse disciplines for a stimulating weekend of presentations and discussions. The symposium kicked off on Friday evening with a fascinating talk by Curtis Huttenhower entitled “Known knowns and known unknowns in host-associated microbial communities,” that drew parallels between the development of microarray technology and the current emerging field of microbiome research. Six scientific sessions on Saturday and Sunday featured talks from world leaders in fields including microbial ecology, infectious disease, computational biology, and population genetics. Participants were riveted by David Schneider’s presentation on modeling the dynamics of host responses to pathogen infection, with clear potential applications to many host-commensal systems. Elhanan Borenstein offered another example of modeling host-associated microbial communities that used constraint based metabolic models for individual members to predict emergent biosynthetic capacities. Several presenters, including Angela Douglas and Andrew Clark, offered approaches to defining the host genetic factors that influence microbial community assembly. Others, including Larry Forney, Katie Pollard, and Ned Wingreen, showed how analysis of temporal human microbiome data could provide insights into community dynamics. Andrew Goodman and Eugene Chang used elegant gnotobiotic experiments to reveal the functions of bacterial traits (defenses against antimicrobial peptides) or host processes (circadian cycles) in maintaining healthy host-microbe systems. Participants were wowed by Hyun Jung Kim’s microengineered human gut on a chip in which Caco2 cells, when cultured in microfluidic devices and subjected to forces and flows mimicking peristalsis, elaborated villar structures that could be maintained with mixed communities of probiotic bacteria.

Kicking off the 2014 META symposium- Nancy Hamren (Springfield Creamery), Karen Guillemin (University of Oregon, META Center Director), and Judith Eisen (University of Oregon)


Each scientific session ended with a productive discussion, pre-inoculated with ideas from breakfast table conversations lead by META Center student and postdocs. Lively discussions continued during the meals and breaks, fueled by delicious yogurts and kefir donated by META symposium sponsor, Nancy’s Yogurt. The meeting also had an active presence on Twitter, which can be found at #uometa2014. Overall, the first META Symposium on Host-Microbe Systems Biology was a great success and we look forward to hosting the next symposium in the summer of 2015. We welcome suggestions on session topics, speakers, and format (



Top tweets from this year’s symposium


August 14, 2014





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The META Center for Systems Biology is a National Center for Systems Biology funded by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health


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