John Piletz, PhD
Just returned from an international collaboration with scientists in Brazil and am looking forward to May 2017 for another lab boot camp!
This is my 4th wonderful year at Mississippi College !
I'm so privileged not only to teach biology but also to serve as the Liaison for International Student Success
in the sciences at MC.
As an ex-med school professor, I'm happy to be based in MC's Biology Department, especially because of the innovative Medical Sciences Master's degree program that is now in its 6th year. As a med-school professor my research had focused on trying to understand the brain, mood disorders, and psychobiology. During those years I scarcely paid attention to the gut microbiota. Now at MC since 2013, I've reinvented my career and undertaken to study the role that these microorganisms play on brain health - and I have assembled a group of energetic students to help. We're approaching this through model systems. Thinking outside the box is what I kinda have always done. Starting with a revisionist way of thinking about what the gut microbiota do - a revisionism that hit the stage only about ten years ago - my new line of research is asking how the trillions of intestinal indwellers in our gut communicate with our nervous system? The question is of relevance to the new field of microbiomics. The field really began with the advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing and those who turned its powers on the gut microbiota. From their work emerged a better appreciation that these indewllers are not just useful symbionts for digestion - rather they are now being touted collectively as an accessory "organ" integrated with metabolic, endocrinological and neurological systems. There is mounting evidence that the gut bacteria communicate across the epithelium in the intestine and exert tonic molecular signals all the way up to the brain. The evidence goes so far as to show that these signals impact our behaviors: in particular satiety, anxiety and depression! A lot of science behind these ideas stems from new work on probiotics. Probiotics surely compete-out those nasty toxic bacteria that come to occupy corners of the digestive system, but newer scientific discoveries also point to their complex interactions forming the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis (MGB axis). The MGB axis is a multifaceted axis with immunological, hormonal and neuronal branches. For moment-by moment monitoring of the gut, the MGB axis involves the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS connects to the brain through various ganglion, parasympathetic, and sympathetic nerve systems. Good bacteria send "all's well" signals upstream to our brain, whereas "bad" bacteria will disrupt this. What are these pathways and the signaling molecules that subserve them? Can we learn enough about the MGB axis to harness its health benefits? If so, could this knowledge be leveraged to battle obesity and other diseases linked to western diets? Such questions are regularly discussed in my laboratory and we hope someday, when all the research is done, our findings will have gastronomic health implications! Challenging minds and shaping lives is why we engage students in our research programs at MC !
BIO6430 X - Graduate Biology Seminar
6;00 - 9:00 pm, Med Sci 202
BIO 6430-Z - Graduate Biology Seminar
1:00 - 3:30 pm, Med Sci 202
BIO 6330-Y - Graduate Biology Seminar Observation
6:00 - 9:00 pm, Med Sci 202
BIO 6330 Z - Graduate Biology Seminar Observation
1:00 - 3:30 pm, Med Sci 202
Bio 6460 - Enteric Signals Lab Rsch
avg 3.5 hours per week per 1 credit hr, Medsci 219
BIO 6462 U - Neuro-Enteric Interaction Research
avg 9.0 hours per week per 3 credit hr, Medsci 219
BIO 6563 - Biology Thesis-2
Avg 11 hours per week for 3 credit hours, MSB 219
BIO 6462 U Documents