Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2019

Degree Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Kate Wiley

Second Advisor

Colleen Kraft

Abstract

The gut microbiome represents trillions of microbes found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and has been the subject of much research and exploration, especially over the last 10 years. Researchers around the world seek to define a healthy microbiome and to determine the impact these bacteria have on long-term health and disease. The National Institutes of Health Common Fund Human Microbiome Project helped identify the microorganisms associated with the human body. The exact balance of the "good vs. bad" bacteria has not been determined definitively. However, many lifestyle factors including antibiotic use and diet have been shown to disrupt the balance and provide a pathway for the growth of aggressive pathogens such as Clostridium difficile (c. diff).

Under the direction of Dr. Colleen Kraft, physicians and researchers with Emory University's Microbiota Enrichment Project (MEP) currently use Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) as a microbiome restorative technique and treatment for patients with c. diff Infection (CDI). As an alternative to repetitive antibiotic use, FMT has shown as an effective treatment, ending recurring CDI. However, not all of Dr. Kraft's patients with debilitating GI symptoms qualify for FMT. The MEP would like to create online content with a nutrition component as it influences the gut microbiome and bacterial diversity and balance. The goal of this capstone project is to create nutrition education materials for MEP, so that participants and those interested in maintaining a "healthy gut" have evidence-based information available.

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