Columbia Seminary to Host Lecture on Science of Human Microbiome

Columbia Seminary to Host Lecture on Science of Human Microbiome

Columbia Theological Seminary has invited Dr. Claire M. Fraser, Director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, to be the next lecturer as part of its “Science for Seminaries” program sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). On March 30, 2016 at 11:00 am, Dr. Fraser will present her talk on “We Are Not Alone: The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease” on the Columbia Seminary campus in the Ellis Room of the Richards Center located at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA near Atlanta. This event is open to the public.

“Throughout all of life, we humans carry with us a complex community of microorganisms known as the human microbiome,” says Dr. Fraser. “Every surface and cavity of the human body is colonized by communities of microbes, and they are an essential component in the modern concept of human health. A great deal of research activity over the past decade has been focused on elucidating the composition and functional characteristics of a healthy microbiome, and this work has revealed a tremendous amount of inter-individual variation in the microbes that we harbor.”

Dr. Fraser has joint faculty appointments at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine in the departments of Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology. She helped launch the new field of microbial genomics and revolutionized the way microbiology has been studied. Until 2007, Dr. Fraser was President and Director of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD, and led the teams that sequenced the genomes of several microbial organisms, including important human and animal pathogens. Her current research is focused on characterization of the human gut microbiome in health and disease.

Columbia Theological Seminary is one of ten Christian Seminaries part of a pilot program by AAAS for integrating science into core theological curricula. Grants totaling $1.5 million were awarded to the schools for integrating science into the curriculum for at least two core theological courses (such as those in systematic theology, biblical studies, church history, and pastoral theology) over the next two years. This integrated approach will bring science into the core of seminary theological education, impacting individual seminaries as well as the ministries in which graduates serve. This AAAS lecture is one of many science-focused, campus-wide activities to complement these courses. Resources from the project will be made available to interested seminaries as the project unfolds, some of which will be archived online at www.ScienceforSeminaries.org.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

Columbia Theological Seminary is committed to “educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers seven graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through the Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information about Columbia Theological Seminary, please visit www.ctsnet.edu.

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