Selected for the second-ever Professor Hawking Fellowship, Bill Gates, philanthropist and principle founder of the Microsoft Corporation, presented his fellowship lecture at Cambridge Union on Monday, October 7.
Discussing the huge challenges still to be addressed within human health and healthcare, Gates touched on his hopes for the future and, in particular, how he believes the microbiome will play a key role in preventing malnutrition world-wide.
"The microbiome is not just a byproduct of your health but also is a key component of your nutritional health,”said Gates.
"The microbiome is not just a by-product of your health but also is a key component of your nutritional health.”
The World Health Organisation reports that, in 2016, a globally estimated 155 million children under the age of 5 years were suffering from stunting as a result of malnutrition.
By enhancing our understanding of the human gut microbiome, which has been demonstrated to have a significantly different composition in malnourished children, Gates believes it is possible to develop targeted therapies which will dramatically reduce the number of deaths caused by malnutrition within the next twenty years.
He added: "That is as big a breakthrough as anything else we will do in health over the next two decades."
"That is as big a breakthrough as anything else we will do in health over the next two decades."
Eagle Genomics is Microsoft Genomics' first partner in the microbiome. Working together to help researchers and organisations harness the full potential of microbiome data, we believe it is possible to solve some of the world's greatest health and environmental challenges.
What is a microbiome?
A microbiome is the population of bacteria, viruses and fungi which live in a specific environment called a biome. All of us have unique skin, gut and oral microbiomes and these communities of microorganisms are even present in the Earth’s soils and oceans; each of these biomes is crucial to human health and sustainable ecosystems.
Photo credit: Andy Mettler for the World Economic Forum