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Dietary Diversity and Gut Health

BY: Kelly Hensel
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Mark L. HeimanFeatured Lecture: Mark L. Heiman

Monday, July 13 | 4:00 – 4:45 pm
McCormick Place South, S100 Ballroom

Mark Heiman, PhD, vice president and chief science officer for MicroBiome Therapeutics, will present “Therapy for Gastrointestinal Microbiome-Associated Diseases Requires Dietary Diversity” on Monday afternoon. Like all ecosystems, a diverse GI microbiome is a health one. However, loss of dietary diversity shifts the microbiome to unhealthy states as observed by loss of GI microbiome diversity associated with metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other GI disorders, all of which have increased in prevalence over the past five years. Heiman will present two strategies to improve dietary diversity by supplementing the habitual uniform diets with GI microbiome modulators (GIMMs). The GIMMs are derived from exploring a shifted GI microbiome in a particular disease state and exploring novel foods that are rarely consumed.


Mark Heiman is the chief scientific officer and vice president of Research at MicroBiome Therapeutics. Heiman’s responsibilities include discovery of gastrointestinal microbiome modulators to maintain health and to manage chronic diseases. Prior to joining MicroBiome Therapeutics he was a research fellow in Obesity Discovery Research at Lilly Research Laboratories.

Heiman received his PhD in 1978 from Louisiana State University School of Medicine with concentration in Physiology. He intensified his training in neuroendocrinology during his next four years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Indiana University School of Medicine and then returned to New Orleans to work with Andrew Schally (Nobel Laureate for his pioneering effort to define neuroendocrinology) at Tulane University School of Medicine where he discovered the drug Lanreotide used to treat pituitary adenomas, before joining Lilly.

Heiman is best known for his seminal work performed at Lilly, which defined key roles that leptin and ghrelin perform in controlling energy balance. Heiman’s lab developed the first validated radioimmunoassay (RIA) to measure leptin and he demonstrated the well know positive correlation of leptin levels with adipocity. In addition, his lab was the first to demonstrate that leptin regulates energy balance by inhibiting neuropeptide-Y synthesis and secretion. More recently, Heiman’s lab was the first to demonstrate that ghrelin stimulates a positive energy balance. The hormone was renamed the Hunger Hormone and Heiman was featured on the CBS 60 Minutes for this discovery. Heiman was awarded Fellow status in The Obesity Society in 2014.

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