The vastness of our universe was put into the spotlight with the first images of the James Webb Space Telescope. These beautiful images, showing only a small fraction of the sky—a grain of sand held at arm’s length—has allowed humanity to delve into the unknown, to better understand our creation, and to see that we are but one of many other galaxies in the cosmos. But unique to us, so far, is that we are teeming with life. As some investigate the macroscopic to better understand our world, others turn towards the microscopic, the very first life on earth, microbes.
Indeed, primitive as they are, microbes gave life to more complex organisms, whether that be through the endosymbiotic relationship of the mitochondrion, or through the digestion of complex molecules. Metabolism, defined as the life-sustaining chemical reactions in our body, is heavily influenced by the microbial environment that feeds it. In this issue of IMMpress we investigate the universe within our body and explore the relationship between metabolism and microbes.
We start off with an infographic about the importance of diet, specifically fibre, and how it can shape our health and our gastrointestinal health (p8)! We follow this article with two that detail why essential nutrients like calcium, folic acid (p10), and vitamin D (p12) are essential for a healthy life. We investigate the notion of food, how some certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen (p13), how the definition of food is stretched in individuals suffering from Pica eating disorder (p14), and how some foods like cilantro can vary in taste based on genetic differences (p16). As food is metabolized, it goes through many complex pathways, but what happens when it goes wrong (p17)? On the other hand, is there a way to harness metabolism to control our immune cells? Find out in our interview with alumnus Dr. Michael St Paul (p18). Intimately connected with metabolism are microbes and their by-products. We look into the power of microbes in regulating brain function (p30), their influence in weight management (p28), their ability to help fight cancer (p22), and fight against disease-causing microbes (p24). We end this issue by summarizing key findings from this year’s Canadian Society of Immunology 2022 meeting where the symposiums covered topics including tumour and layered immunity (p34).
Many thanks to our team of writers, designers, and editors for taking their time to create another great issue of IMMpress Magazine, we appreciate you all. As we near the start of the next school year, welcome to all new incoming and transfer students! Finally, we would like to say goodbye and thank you to Louis Ngai (Co-Editor-in-Chief) and to the wonderful Sarah Colpitts (Multimedia Director) as they step down from their positions. At the same time, we are thrilled to welcome Karen Yeung as Louis’s replacement, as she has proven herself in her great talents as writer, editor, and designer. We hope our readership will enjoy this issue and we hope everybody stays safe and healthy!
Louis and Phil