Published November 10, 2017
Western New Yorkers will receive a weeklong introduction to the five pounds of microorganisms that call the human body home through Mind Your Microbiome and Be Antibiotics Aware Week, a series of community events and initiatives sponsored by UB’s Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence.
Held during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week — Nov. 13-19 — the events aim to educate the public about the microbes that live in and on our bodies, including the large number of good bacteria that colonize our bodies and keep us healthy, and the few bad bacteria that cause infections and make us ill.
Programs range from a symposium on the aesthetics of microbial art to discussions on the future of antibiotics and workshops that guide second-grade students through collecting and studying microorganisms in their classroom.
GEM is also partnering with the CDC, Erie County Department of Health, Patient Voices Network and UB’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. They will perform outreach — including activities and providing information on the importance of the microbiome, probiotics and proper antibiotic use — at UB, local pharmacies, public libraries, clinics and the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Formerly Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is held to make the public more mindful of antibiotic overuse in both food and medicine, and the threat of antibiotic resistance, which has led to the increasing prevalence of resistant strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat.
According to CDC research, nearly 80 percent of Americans are prescribed at least one antibiotic each year, but half of those prescriptions are either unnecessary or ineffective.
“GEM wants everyone to think differently about bacteria and to realize that good bacteria live in and on us to help keep us healthy. Smart use of antibiotics is a key piece of keeping your microbiome healthy,” says Jennifer Surtees, GEM co-director and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
Activities that will be held throughout the week include:
The symposium will be held Nov. 16-17 at the Coalesce Center for Biological Art in Hochstetter Hall and the Student Union on the North Campus, and at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.
Panelists include Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein; Joshua Sawyer, clinical assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Julie Smithson, clinical pharmacist at Sisters of Charity Hospital.
The event, free and open to the public, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in 125 Kapoor Hall, South Campus. Light refreshments will be served.
The program is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection in Abbott Hall, South Campus. Refreshments and dessert will be served.
Guests are encouraged to RSVP by Nov. 13 with Linda Lohr at 716-829-5737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GEM is an interdisciplinary community of UB faculty and staff dedicated to uncovering the ways in which microbes help us in our daily lives and advancing public understanding of the microbiome.
To learn more about GEM research, outreach and education, visit the GEM website.