Guest Speaker: Ana Santos, PhD Student, Neuroscience
Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are leading causes of disability in Canada. Current diagnoses are mainly based on reported symptoms, and the lack of biomarkers to confirm the presence of a mental illness contributes to a high rate of ineffective treatments. Research in Dr. Marie-Claude Audet’s interdisciplinary Stress, Nutrition & Mental Health lab assesses factors that contribute to mood and anxiety disorders which are outside of the brain, to better understand what influences the development of symptoms. Research in their lab has a focus on microorganisms in the intestinal tract, known as the gut microbiota, which could play a role in depression and anxiety.
Our bodies have just as many microbes as our own cells, and they have shown to be capable of moderating how we respond to stress and regulate emotions. In this talk, Ana will explore how gut microbes can communicate back-and-forth with their host and discuss the crucial, yet widely overlooked, role our gut microbiota has in determining vulnerability and resilience to stress and mental illnesses. There are multiple factors, such as how we eat (diet) or how we interact with people (social environments), which may influence the microbiota. Ana will describe her doctoral research and explain how she is examining if positive or adverse influences can determine if the microbiota acts in a protective or pathological manner in the context of mental health.
Learn more about Ana’s research by visiting her lab page.
About the Science Café
Explore science through Carleton University’s popular Science Café series, held twice a month during the fall and winter terms at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library at 1049 Bank Street (at Aylmer Ave in Old Ottawa South). Each café begins at 6:30 p.m. with a 20-minute talk by a scientist followed by a 40-minute open question and answer period.
Come and join us for a lively discussion around a scientific issue of the day. Be prepared to be informed, engaged and even amused, as our professors share their scientific discoveries with you. All are welcome. For more information, please contact the Faculty of Science by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 613-520-4388.