7:20 am Registration and Morning Coffee

8:20 am Chairperson Opening Remarks

Gut Instincts – Reviewing the Potential of Microbiome Science in GBA-Related Disease Settings


The microbiome gut-brain axis space is at a critical point of establishing causality and application in the pharmaceutical and healthcare settings. This theme will review the current thinking towards approaches in understanding the role of the microbiome in gut-brain axis signalling and how this knowledge can be applied to shape drug development and healthcare practice in the GBA space.

8:30 am Microbiome GBA Industry & Academic Leaders Panel Discussion – Providing an Overview of the Status & Direction of the Microbiome GBA Space

  • David Donabedian Co-Founder, CEO & Director , Axial Biotherapeutics
  • Timothy Buie Attending Gastroenterologist , Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Valerie Taylor Department Chair of Psychiatry & Scientist, University of Calgary & Hotchkiss Brain Institute
  • Michael Zasloff Founder, CEO & Chairman , Enterin, Inc


• Providing a bird’s eye view on scientific and product development progress made in the microbiome gut-brain axis space – what is the status of this field?
• Reviewing gaps in our knowledge of neurogastroenterology and hot pockets of innovation opportunity in the microbiome-GBA space
• Plotting the road to success: what is our end goal, applications of R&D efforts and what hurdles must be overcome to get there?
• The role of public/private collaborations and investment opportunities in the microbiome-GBA field – who can you partner with for funding to support and accelerate your research?
• If we could change one thing today, what would it be?

It’s A Two Way Street! Exploring Signalling Pathways in the Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis


The mechanisms of action underlying the microbiome-gut-brain axis remain unclear. This theme aims to elucidate the ongoing research and development efforts that are increasing our knowledge of the microbe-microbe, host-microbe and immune system-microbiome interactions that influence the bidirectional signalling superhighway that is the gut-brain axis.

9:30 am The Gut-Brain Connection: Functional Connectivity of the Vagus Nerve


• Neuropod cells are the epithelial sensory transduction cells of the gut
• Neuropod cells synapse with vagal neurons
• Glutamate is a neurotransmitter for fast synaptic communication with the vagus nerve

10:00 am Microbes & Monoamine: Stepping Stones from Dysbiosis to Psychiatric Disease

  • Stephen Skolnick Research Technologist , Massachusetts Institute of Technology


• The history and role of the microbiome in endogenous benzodiazepine synthesis; implications for anxiety
• How diet, antibiotics, and the microbiome influence the retention of dietary heavy metals, especially methylmercury
• A surprisingly simple model for the etiology of depression and schizophrenia, centered on a deficiency of queuine—a nearly unheard-of vitamin produced by the microbiome

10:30 am Speed Networking & Morning Refreshments

11:30 am Exploring the Early Microbiome & Neurodevelopment

  • Jing Lu Research Professional, University of Chicago


• Preterm infants differ from term infants in initial colonization and succession of microbiota due to host and environmental factors
• Early microbiome of infants is a modifiable target that influences the postnatal outcomes including growth, brain development, and behaviours
• The effect of early microbiome on blood-brain barrier development and functions might reveal a critical site of microbiome and brain interplay

12:00 pm Microbiome and Gut-Brain Axis: The Autism Paradigm to Move from Association to Causation

  • Alessio Fasano Professor & Director Mucosal Immunology & Biology , Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital


• Genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental triggers are necessary but not sufficient (as believed before) to develop Autism spectrum disorders (ASD);
• Among additional components, an unbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis) is taking central stage as a possible element affecting the gut-brain axis communication, leading to neuroinflammation typical of ASD
• However, many of the cross-sectional studies reported in literature are merely descriptive, since their design does not allow a mechanistic link between dysbiosis and pathogenesis of ASD. Birth cohort prospective, longitudinal studies are necessary to move from association to causation, so identifying possible therapeutic targets aimed at modifying gut microbiome composition and function to ameliorate neuroinflammation

12:30 pm Highlighting Important Highways Enabling Immune Crosstalk


• Discussing immune modulation and the impact of the lymphatic axis on the gutbrain axis
• Highlighting the gut and meningeal lymphatic architecture
• Pinpointing opportunities to manipulate this cross talk (which is in essence what
the microbiome is doing)

1:00 pm Lunch & Networking

Harnessing –Omics Tools to Facilitate the Study of Microbial Function & Interactions at an Ecology Level


Widespread use of 16S sequencing and more readily available shotgun sequencing technologies have
accelerated the identification and characterization of microbes with a key role in the gut-brain axis.
However, we are at a critical point of really needing to understand microbial function in order to take
research to the next level. This theme explores the –omic tools available to us and how these are being
integrated with metabolomics to indicate microbial function at an ecology level and identify potential
therapeutic targets.

2:00 pm Investigating Gut-Brain Interactions in Autism & Neurodegenerative Disorders


• The resident microbiomes of the upper and lower GI tract are altered in autism and neurodegenerative disorders
• We can monitor large-scale host-microbiome interactions
• Changes in composition can lead to functional alterations that affect brain development and disease resistance

Translating Basic Microbiome Science into Therapeutic or Nutritional Targets Through Pre-Clinical Models


As our understanding of the microbiome gut-brain axis crystallizes, we can move beyond basic science and
explore the therapeutic avenues that this opens. With a plethora of druggable targets at our disposition
including microbes, metabolites and neurotransmitters to name but a few, this theme will consider how
the therapeutic potential of these targets can be demonstrated in pre-clinical models and what technical
translational challenges must be overcome.

2:30 pm Dietary Inulin Alters the Gut Microbiome, Enhances Systemic Metabolism & Reduces Neuroinflammation in an APOE4 Mouse Model

  • Ai-Ling Lin Associate Professor , University of Kentucky


• Carriers of the apolipoprotein ε4 allele (APOE4) develop systemic metabolic dysfunction decades before showing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) symptoms; preserving metabolic function early on may be critical to reducing the risk for AD
• Here we show that prebiotic inulin increases beneficial gut microbiota, elevates short chain fatty acids, tryptophan-derived metabolites and bile acids, and reduces inflammatory gene expression in the brain in young, asymptomatic
APOE4 transgenic mice
• Using a prebiotic diet to enhance systemic metabolism may be useful for reducing AD risk in asymptomatic APOE4 carriers

3:00 pm Exploring the Role of Intestinal Microbiota & Gut-Derived Inflammation in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Ali Keshavarzian Professor & Gastroenterologist, Rush University Medical Center


• Changes in microbiota composition and function in PD
• Mechanism by which microbiota triggers microglia activation, neuro-inflammation and DA loss
• Role of microbiota-directed intervention in the treatment of PD

3:30 pm Afternoon Refreshments & Networking

Mastermind Session – Discussing the Therapeutic Potential of the Microbiome in Different Clinical Indications


This session will facilitate in-depth discussion amongst participants in an informal setting. After splitting
into groups, participants will have the opportunity to discuss the potential of applying microbiome science
in specific disease settings. Notes from this session will be shared with attendees after the meeting.

1. Applying microbiome science in neurodegenerative disorders e.g. Alzheimer’s disease

2. Applying microbiome science in neurocognitive disorders e.g. autism

3. Applying microbiome science in neuropsychiatric disorders e.g. schizophrenia

4:30 pm Chairperson’s Closing Remarks

4:40 pm Evening Drinks Reception & Poster Session Hosted by the Microbiome Movement