“Microbiome Research with the Yanomami”, David Good
From Suzanne Pellegrini
Microbes and Social Equity speaker series 2023
This series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.
I would like to thank the UMaine Institute of Medicine and the UMaine Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Committee for their support for this series, and acknowledge the work of our MSE members helping to organize this: Emily Wissel, Kat Daiy, Kieran O’Doherty, Hannah Holland-Moritz, Mallory Choudoir, and Mustafa Saifuddin. I would also like to recognize that the University of Maine is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation.
Our presentation today is “Microbiome Research with the Yanomami”, David GoodDavid Good is a PhD student in microbiology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. His general research goal is characterizing the structural and functional microbial diversity of his Yanomami family, the Irokae-teri, located in the Amazon rainforest of Venezuela. They are of great interest in the microbiome field since the Irokae-teri live fully immersed in the rainforest environment and subsist by an active lifestyle of hunting-gathering and small-scale gardening. Furthermore, their relative isolation deep in the Amazon limits their exposure to microbiome stressors such as antibiotics, highly refined and processed foods, industrial toxins and pollutants, food preservatives, etc. David will discuss this unique and rare opportunity to advance our understanding of the human microbiome of a community largely unperturbed by westernization, while building global awareness on the importance of protecting these few remaining isolated indigenous societies. However, such research brings numerous challenges surrounding bioethics. David hopes to build dialogue around going beyond simple compliance in microbiome research, and how the Yanomami have the right to self-determination and harness their bioeconomic potential to protect their home.