Science – 24 June 2016 Vol 352, Issue 6293

24 June 2016 Vol 352, Issue 6293

Policy Forum
Capitalizing on convergence for health care
By Phillip Sharp, Tyler Jacks, Susan Hockfield
Science24 Jun 2016 : 1522-1523
For decades, scientists have called for more collaboration between the life and physical sciences, and in the past 5 years, we have been among those calling for a new national research strategy—one we call “convergence”—that would integrate engineering, physical, computational, and mathematical sciences with biomedical science (1). Thanks to the accelerating pace of biological discovery, the expanding power of computation, and a new focus in engineering on biocompatible materials and nanotechnology, the potential of such a strategy for advances in health care is greater than ever (see the photo). Technologies emerging from such efforts have potential implications far beyond health care: creating jobs; speeding products to market; and improving everything from agriculture and the environment to defense, the economy, and energy production. It all adds up to a moment of unprecedented opportunity, if we choose to invest in it meaningfully. But so far we have not. We detail below, and in greater depth in a new report with colleagues from across the country (2), the stakes in the convergence revolution and what we should do to capitalize on it.


Childhood undernutrition, the gut microbiota, and microbiota-directed therapeutics
By Laura V. Blanton, Michael J. Barratt, Mark R. Charbonneau, Tahmeed Ahmed, Jeffrey I. Gordon
Science24 Jun 2016 : 1533
Editor’s Summary
Gut microbiota and undernutrition
Poor nutrition during the early years of life can have severe consequences for subsequent skeletal, immunological, and intellectual development. Blanton et al. review the evidence showing that undernutrition is not caused by food insecurity alone. Other factors range from the length of the breastfeeding period and the availability of milk oligosaccharides, enteropathogen exposure, and enteric dysfunction marked by villus atrophy and loss of gut barrier function. Unfortunately, nutritional restoration with or without antibiotic treatment may not be effective in the longer term. Differences in the succession of microbial establishment and maturity can explain much of family discordances in nutritional status. The evidence indicates that microbiota-directed therapeutics could be a promising route to nutritional restoration in these children