The TED Talks website has posted a much-awaited presentation by UC San Diego professor of pediatrics as well as computer science, Rob Knight. Actually, it was recorded at TED 2014 nearly a year ago, when Knight was still a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Knight made the switch to UC San Diego early this year, and the TED organization finally lifted the free-viewing curtain on the video of his March appearance at TED 2014 in Vancouver.
Then, in just over 24 hours, approximately 125,000 visitors viewed Knight's talk on "How our microbes make us who we are." What's more, TED Books began to sell the hardcover as well as Kindle and audio CD editions, all through Amazon. The book based on Knight's presentation, now dubbed "Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes" (see photo below), will be released on April 7.
In his original TED presentation, now available for free on the TED website and via TED apps or iTunes, Knight is described as a "microbial ecologist", which, while true, is an understatement of his impressive credentials. After earning his Ph.D. from Princeton, he became an expert in the human microbiome, mgicrobial community ecology and what he now calls "multi-omics". In joining UC San Diego's Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program in the focus areas of bioinformatics and glycobiology, Knight simultaneously agreed to spend part of his time working closely with the team of bioinformatics faculty in the Computer Science and Engineering department.
"A major challenge in microbiome research is in computation," said Knight. "The ability to generate the data has greatly outstripped a lot of people's ability to analyze the data." Knight's decision to join the UC San Diego faculty is owed, at least in part, to the university having "a unique combination of high-performance computing, immunology... " as well as other companies, institutions and hospitals.
"Ninety percent of the cells in your body are not human," said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr, quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune when the hire of Rob Knight was announced. "They are bacteria located in places like your large intestine. Medicine has been ignoring those microbes. But that's changing, and UCSD will be a leader in this transformation. Indeed, Smarr hopes to move his own research into Knight's larger lab once it is fully established.
Watch the webcast of Rob Knight's TED 2014 talk or read the Interactive Transcript.