My tweetstorm for the Biotweeps #BTCon18 conference about The Vaginal Microbiome

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Today and tomorrow, the Biotweeps conference is happening!

@Biotweeps is a Twitter account that features a different biologist each week. Last year, they organized the first Biotweeps conference, where 60 scientists were tweeting about their work. You can read their tweets by looking for #BTCon17 on Twitter.

Today and tomorrow, the second installment of this conference is taking place, with – you guessed right! – the hashtag #BTCon18. I could not find how many presenters there were this year, but I was one of the invited “speakers”. Each speaker gave their talk entirely through tweets, and we all were given a time slot, just like at a regular conference. Regular speakers had a 15-min timeslot in which they could tweet 4-5 slides. Invited speakers could tweet as many tweets as they liked in a 30-min timeslot. You can read all the abstracts here.

My talk was about the vaginal microbiome. Here is my abstract:

2100 Invited presenter – Elisabeth Bik (@MicrobiomDigest)- uBiome San Francisco

The vaginal microbiome: Women and their microbial BFFs

The human body is home to complex communities of microbes: the human microbiome. Most of these microbes are bacteria, and most of these live in our gut. But vaginas contain microbes as well. Which microbes “down there” are our friends, and which are the ones that cause bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, infertility, or cervical cancer? How can we keep vaginas healthy and happy, and what do we need to do in case of a microbial imbalance? If you are interested in science, have a vagina, or love vaginas owned by others, you do not want to miss this #BTCon18 thread.

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If you want to read my “talk” (“tweepinar”?), you can start here.

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Lab photo stock fun: Pipetting Sideways

The Verge had a fun article by Rachel Becker on Thursday about funny science stock photos called “Stock photos of scientists reveal that science is mostly about staring – 
Sometimes at chickens“.

In case you did not know, I made a whole collection of these on this blog – brought together on this page: Lab Stock Photo Fails.

And it made me realize that it was time for a new installment of this series. Today, let’s focus on some great ways to pipet sideways. Because gravity is so over-rated.

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The best microbiome papers of 2017

Happy New Year again!

Last week, I asked you all to vote for the best microbiome papers of 2017. And just like the previous year, we have a very clear winner. A paper that had some obvious help from the author’s Facebook friends, who all wrote in to vote 🙂

Full disclosure: I was the handling editor of this paper.

The winner is…. (drumroll)….

Second place was won by:

And in shared third/fourth place:

Other nominees were:

I wish you all the best for the new year! Hopefully, 2018 will bring even more great microbiome science papers.

Vote for the best microbiome papers of 2017

It’s that time again, where we look back on what happened in the past year. Like last year, I thought it would be nice to choose the best microbiome papers of the year.  Here is a form where you can fill out your top 3 (#1 being the best, and – optional – your second and third choice). I will post the results on January 1, so you can vote until December 31, midnight, Pacific Time. Below the poll are a ton of ideas for papers that I thought were news-worthy. I probably forgot a lot, so feel free to add your own choice. Happy voting and all the best wishes for the New Year.

Update December 28: I have added Kiran Gurung’s favorite papers, so there are even more to choose from!

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017 

April 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

The Microbiome Digest Team

Hi all, it’s Elisabeth Bik, doing a rare blog post here, after having run this blog for 3 years in a row. I am having a blast working at uBiome, but as I wrote in January, with my long commute and continuing science integrity work I can not spend much time here at Bik’s Picks. Fortunately, the Microbiome Digest has been able to continue to run through the fantastic work of a group of 20 people from all over the world. In the last couple of months, some new people joined, and some other people left, so it was time for a update on the team members and their background and interest. I am so grateful that this team could take over from me, and that they are running the blog so I can currently focus on other things.

So here is the new Microbiome Digest Team page where you can read more about the fantastic group of scientists who are currently writing the Microbiome Digest posts.

Thank you all, team, for providing this continuous stream of new microbiome papers and articles.

 

 

Microbiome Medicine Summit 2017

Last year I wrote about the Microbiome Medicine Summit, which was not really a summit/conference but rather a collection of interviews with “nutrition specialists” and “microbiome experts” – some real, others not so much – conducted by Raphael Kellman, who has been trained as an MD but is very eager to believe and report on non-scientific statements involving the human microbiome. RK has been award the “Overselling the Microbiome” Award by Jonathan Eisen.

Most of the talks at last year’s Microbiome Medicine Summit provided very little science, a lot about “nurturing your microbes” , some crazy stuff, and lots of promotions to buy overpriced probiotic drinks, minerals, and self-help books. Even more telling, there were very few interviews with real microbiome experts or scientists.

I wrote about some of these talks in my blog posts from last year: Microbiome Medicine Summit with Deepak Chopra et al, part 2 with Donna Gates, part 3 with Ann Louise Gittleman, part 4 with Joseph Mercola, and part 5 with Larry Dossey.

This year, the Microbiome Medicine Summit returned in its second edition, with lots of new interviews, but basically the same strange mix of a tiny bit of science and lots of quackery, snake oil, alternative facts, and of course links to dubious websites selling products claiming to cure diseases. As in last year’s collection, most of these interviews were with nutritionists and holistic doctors. And again, most interviews were conducted by Raphael Kellman, who sometimes talks more than the person he is interviewing, and never, ever, seems to ask a critical question.  The schedule can be found here.

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I took on the (at times painful) task of sitting through several of these talks so that I could share with you what they were about. Some of these talks were not too bad, with lots of “feed your microbes by eating healthy” types of messages, but some were outright weird or even dangerous. I reported about these talks on Twitter and compiled the tweets and some responses on Storify.

Here are my reports on Storify.

John Gray – Healthy Microbiome and Personal Relationships

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Donna Gates – Cleansing the Microbiome

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Microbiome stock photo fails

Sometimes I come across a stock photo that is unintentionally funny. Here is another one.

An artist’s rendition of how microbes grow in the intestinal tract. Here you can see bacteria circling around microvilli. Or are they shiny pills in straight lines circling around sausages, or decaying fingers in plastic gloves?

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Same villi but different bacteria. It’s a Fecal Microbiota Transplant!

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And this one has no bacteria at all. I guess it represents the Germ Free Mouse.

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