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PODCAST: UMass Chan experts discuss gut microbiome’s role in health

The human body is a host to an army of microbes essential to fighting off threats such as the virus that causes COVID-19. In a new Voices of UMass Chan episode, Ana Maldonado-Contreras, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology & physiological systems, and Heidi Leftwich, DO, associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology, discuss:

  • The importance of gut bacteria in immune system function and the development of a healthy microbiome in newborns;
  • Research into how SARS-CoV-2 infection impacts people who are pregnant and breastfeeding;
  • The role of the microbiome in diseases that have a genetic component;
  • Details on how gut bacteria help provide signals for the immune system, regulate inflammation, and impact health in adults and children, including during pregnancy; and
  • Research on how food and drinks can manipulate the gut microbiome.

Listen to the full podcast and subscribe at: If you’d like to recommend a podcast idea, email the UMass Chan Office of Communications: