There are trillions of bacteria living in our bodies, making up complex communities of microbes regulating processes like digestion and immunity. For Caltech biologist Sarkis Mazmanian, they also make up the focus of his research: understanding how the "good" bacteria promote human health. Featured in the cover story for the June issue of Scientific American, he makes a case for devoting more attention to the helpful bugs after years of scientific dedication to pathogens. "It goes against dogma to think that bacteria would make our immune systems function better," he says, in the article. "But the picture is getting very clear: the driving force behind the features of the immune system are commensals."
The magazine is available now on newsstands and the article, "The Ultimate Social Network," can be read online with a subscription.