MC

Mississippi College

John Piletz, PhD


2015 marks my third year at "MC- A Christian University". Hope you enjoy perusing my semester calendar, course syllabi & recent publications listed below.

About Me

As an ex-med school professor, I'm so happy to be teaching in MC's Biology Department, especially in the innovative Medical Sciences Master's degree program. For years my research had focused on the brain and psychobiology.  Now, I've come up with a new twist about a major factor affecting brain health.  To my collegues in pscyhobiology, I say this is a bottoms-up approach (pun intended).  What I'm talking about is actually the symbiotic garden existing within each of us - the gut microbiome - and how it signals our brain!   The gut microbiome is composed of trillions of bacteria and other microbes representing thousands of different species - and what I am trying to discover is what these intestinal indwellers say to our neurons. The microbiota in our guts had long been shunned due to the yuk factor and anyway probably passive contributors to the digestive process.  Most scientific studies about them concerned antibiotics. But, with the advent of high-throughput DNA sequencing came a plethora of new insights.  As a result we now know that there are a myriad of healthy benefits when our gut microbiome functions well - all the way up to decreasing our anxiety levels. Some of this new information has emerged into the public arena relating to how probiotics improve digestive processes.  Textbooks tell us that the mechanism by which probiotics work is by competing-out the pathogenic bacteria.  But, a weatlh of newer studies about host-microbiome interactions have revealed that the mechanism is probably much more complex and at the same time elegant, involving a fully integrated physiological system which has come to be called the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis (MGB axis). A key component of the MGB axis is the human enteric nervous system (ENS): a regulator of intestinal movement and gastric secretions to be sure.  But beyond digestion, the ENS is connected upstream to the brain through the vagus nerve and the spinal cord.  The "good" bacteria within our gut are called the commensals and the "bad" bacteria are called pathogens. Each class of good and bad bacteria emit chemical signals to each other as well as to the endothelial cells of the gut.  Some emerging scientific evidence indicates that these signals interact with our own homeostatic mechanisms stemming to/from our brains.  Can we learn enough about the MGB axis to harness its health benefits?  The concept is very new - yet it has gastronomic implications!  These and many other questions are being explored by the students in my laboratory.  Students challenge minds and shape life-long learners, of which I am a prime example!

Class Schedule

Fall 2015

  • BIO6430 X - Graduate Biology Seminar
    Fridays, 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Med Sci 210
  • BIO 6430-Y - Graduate Biology Seminar
    Thursdays, 6;00 - 9:00 pm, Med Sci 210
  • BIO 6330-Z - Graduate Biology Seminar Observation
    Fridays, 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Med Sci 210
  • BIO 6330 Y - Graduate Biology Seminar Observation
    Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 pm, Med Sci 210
  • Bio 451 & - Enteric Cell-Cell Signal Lab Rsch
    TBD, 3.5 hours per week per 1 credit hr, Medsci 219
  • BIO 6460/1 - Enteric-Bacterial Laboratory Research
    TBD, 3.5 hours per week per 1 credit hr, Medsci 219

Syllabi

Documents

BIO 6460/1 Documents

Other Documents

Links