Interview With a Scientist: Andrew Goodman, Separating Causation and Correlation in the Microbiome


You’ve likely heard some variation of the statistic that there are at least as many microbial cells in our body as human cells. You may have also heard that the microscopic bugs that live in our guts, on our skins, and every crevice they can find, collectively referred to as the human microbiome, are implicated in human health. But do these bacteria, fungi, archaea, protists, and viruses cause disease, or are the specific populations of microbes inside us a result of our state of health? That’s the question that drives the research in the lab of Andrew Goodman Link to external web site, associate professor of microbial pathogenesis at Yale University.

In this video, Goodman talks about how he uses a variety of traditional microbiology tools, as well as computational and systems biology approaches, to separate causation and correlation with regard to our microbiomes. These tools allow Goodman and his colleagues to selectively turn on and off microbial genes to understand how the timing and expression levels impact host/microbiome interactions. One goal of this research is to learn these interactions influence how people respond to drugs. Along similar lines, Goodman thinks his research can help clinicians choose the most effective medications for patients given their microbiomes or even alter a patient’s microbiome to make certain drugs more effective. 

Dr. Goodman’s work is funded in part by the NIH under grants 4DP2GM105456 and 5R35GM118159.