Newswise — The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR®), the leading voice on the study of the biological differences between women and men, is co-sponsoring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Forum on the Microbiome and Autoimmunity on Thursday, April 24, at the NIH in Bethesda, Md. Experts from research institutions from across the country will discuss how the microbiome—the collective population in the human body of all non-human cells and genes, such as bacteria, viruses and other pathogens—influences the development of autoimmune disease.

There has been a surge in research on the microbiome in recent years, with current findings showing that the microbiome is required for immune development and protective immune responses. Scientists also are finding that disruption or disorganization of the microbiome can lead to inflammatory diseases. The goal of the NIH Forum is to support discussion and collaboration in the study of microbiome-autoimmune disease interactions.

Confirmed speakers come from the National Eye Institute; Harvard University School of Medicine; University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Baylor College of Medicine; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease; Autoimmunity Research Foundation; New York University School of Medicine; and University of Florida.

“The exploration of the human microbiome is one of the most fascinating and emerging fields of medical research. SWHR is proud to support the NIH in looking at the links between the microbiome and autoimmune diseases, especially as they relate to women’s health,” said Dr. Christine Carter, SWHR vice president of scientific affairs. “Recent studies demonstrate that there are sex differences in the gut microbiome that may account for the differential risk for certain autoimmune diseases in women. We believe there should be more study of the influence of sex and sex hormones on the gut’s role as guardian of our health.”

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