Overselling the mcirobiome award: Dr Roizen’s Preventative and Integrative Medicine Conference

Just got an email announcement for “Dr. Roizen’s Preventative and Integrative Medicine Conference” in Las Vegas in December 2015.

The announcement did not start of well for me with the gender balance of the key speakers

But since I spoke at this meeting in 2013 and since there was a good gender balance at that meeting, I decided to give the benefit of the doubt and keep reading (though I note – not trying to say this 5:0 gender ratio is a good thing).

And this is when it got worse – here are the bullet points for what one should learn from attending this meeting

  • The key concept about optimal aging that Dr. Roizen learned from 56 million people who took the RealAge® test
  • Smart tips about changing you and your patient’s microbiomes and what to do for your microbiome to promote weight loss and how it inhibits aging
  • How you can affect the role of the GI tract in chronic disease
  • How to understand the clinical utility of TMAO testing for monitoring cardiometabolic risk
  • The tricks about measuring your microbiome’s effects
  • Why some choose a plant based diet and why you might not
  • What supplements do you and your patient’s need with a plant based diet to decrease inflammation and improve your microbiome
  • Clarify how a systems-based approach can effectively treat illness and promote wellness
Now – I don’t know much about Dr. Roizen or his optimal aging claims in his books (I am skeptical). But the microbiome stuff in here is silly.
Let’s start with: “Smart tips about changing you and your patient’s microbiomes and what to do for your microbiome to promote weight loss and how it inhibits aging“.  I wonder how he will give these smart tips when as far as I know there is nothing actually known about this.  How the microbiome inhibits aging?  Really? Is this going to be a summary of future research not yet done or even imagined?
What about “The tricks about measuring your microbiome’s effects.”  So – there are 1000s of scientists studying this, they mostly say it is very very very hard to study the effects of the microbiome and Roizen and crew are going to solve this with a few “tricks”?  So is he saying everyone in the field is incompetent since they can’t measure these effects but he knows how to with a few tricks?
Dr. Roizen seems like a smart person and some of what I have heard from him sounds reasonable.  These microbiome claims from him here are a clear example of “Overselling the microbiome” and buying into the hype and not staying with the science. Maybe he was not paying attention for my talk for this meeting in 2013 when I discussed overselling the microbiome

I hope he tones down his claims in the future … but for now he is a winner of a coveted “Overselling the Microbiome Award”.  For other “winners” see here.

About Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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