The Microbe Whisperer

Sharks, dolphins and even platypus rely on electric signals to survive. Turns out the microbes in our gut do as well. Dr. Arthur Prindle discovered that these simple bacteria communicate electrically using ion channels. Why is that important? Knowing their language, Prindle can inject himself into the conversation, instructing them to detoxify and detect disease in our bodies. View Halo Profile >>

Tell us about your research…

My lab is trying to develop new ways to program bacteria to perform useful functions for basic science, engineering, and medicine.

Can you explain that to a non-scientist?

We have recently learned that our bodies are filled with about as many bacterial cells as human cells. My vision is to engineer these bacterial communities (called the microbiome) to monitor and treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

My vision is to engineer these bacterial communities (called the microbiome) to monitor and treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

How could it someday impact patient lives?

In the future, we may be able to eat a spoonful of yogurt that contains probiotics that continuously emit signals for non-invasive monitoring of disease. These probiotics could even deliver drugs directly to the site of disease.