This year’s president’s invited session at the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo tackles the body’s mystifying collection of bacteria, otherwise known as the microbiome. A long-standing tradition of AACC Annual Scientific Meetings, the president’s invited session covers a topic of professional interest to the AACC president that has relevancy to the clinical laboratory field.

With this year’s morning symposium, AACC President Michael J. Bennett, PhD is hoping to increase member awareness of the physiologic and metabolic roles of the microbiome and metabolome. The Microbiome in Health and Disease (32128) takes place from 10:30 a.m. to noon on July 31.

Bennett, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Clinical Chemistry & Metabolic Disease Laboratories at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has been observing metabolic profiles from the microbiome for over three decades. For the longest time, he did not believe these compounds had any clinical significance.

Increasingly, however, “we are becoming aware that the products of the metabolism of our bodies’ microbiome do have clinical significance. I would like to be part of the program that defines the clinically important microbiome biomarkers and to translate that information into clinical service,” Bennett told CLN Stat.

To date, there has been little clinical utilization of microbiome markers, but Bennett’s prediction is: “We will have this in the future once we have characterized them all.”

Session speakers include Gary Wu, MD and Rebecca Simmons, MD of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Wu will be speaking on diet, the gut microbiome, and its metabolome in health and disease while Simmons will discuss the role of the microbiome in the programming of adult disease.

Bennett said he chose Wu to speak on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and its metabolic capacity “because he is an expert in the GI microbiome with whom I have been collaborating recently and who is known to give an outstanding presentation on the topic.”

Simmons is an expert in neonatology who is working closely with the March of Dimes in studying the placental microbiome as a potential cause of early delivery.

The role of the placental microbiome in human health is still largely unknown. Yet, “it’s becoming very clear that the placental metabolism, either endogenous or exogenous, plays a role in normal term delivery for babies and that abnormalities in this process are responsible, in part at least, for premature delivery,” Bennett said.

Preterm delivery is potentially the most expensive area of pediatric medicine. Preventing early delivery would have a major impact on infant health and healthcare costs, he noted.

Participants who attend this intriguing session earn 1.5 CE hours. Register today for the for the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in San Diego July 30–Aug. 3 to learn more about the role of the microbiome in human health and other cutting-edge topics in clinical laboratory medicine.