Professor of Genetics Andrés Moya, Master of the VIII Andrés Laguna Keynote Lecture of the University of Alcalá

  • Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
  • October 18th, 2019
Andrés Moya, Professor of Genetics at the University of Valencia and director of the FISABIO-UV institutional chair.
Andrés Moya, Professor of Genetics at the University of Valencia and director of the FISABIO-UV institutional chair.

Andrés Moya Simarro, Professor of Genetics at the University of Valencia, researcher from the Institute for Integrative Systems Biology (I2SysBio) and director of the institutional chair FISABIO-UV, has been distinguished by the University of Alcalá and the Lilly Foundation as Master of the VIII Andrés Laguna Keynote Lecture in 2019. In his lecture “I am me with my microbes” Professor Moya recalled that the adult human being carries as many bacteria in his body as his own cells and has explained the relationship between microbes and their host, and the benefits of this link in people’s health.

The study of the human microbiome and that of the microbiota that form it has a fundamental role in the development of the immune system, the prevention of infectious diseases, the acquisition of nutrients and in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. As Andrés Moya indicated during his speech, “despite having made great progress, such as the identification of 105 diseases or the discovery of 22 environmental factors associated with changes in the composition of the intestinal, respiratory, skin microbiome, the one of the urinary tract or that of the vagina, we continue to have large gaps on how the associations between the hosts and their corresponding microbiomes become evolutionarily established”.

The VIII Andrés Laguna Keynote Lecture pays tribute to the figure and legacy of Andrés Laguna, one of the greatest exponents of medical humanism in Spain. The yesterday Thursday event at the University of Alcalá was chaired by the rector of the institution, José Vicente Saz, and was attended by José Antonio Sacristán, director of the Lilly Foundation, an entity with the objective of improving Spanish health through the dissemination of knowledge. The keynote lecture is an activity framed in the commemorative events in honour of Saint Lucas, patron saint of the medical profession, with which are celebrated the more than five centuries have passed since the first classes of Medicine were taught at the University of Alcalá.

For Andrés Moya, those microorganisms that have achieved a very effective form of transmission via maternal or early incorporation are probably those that are in mutualistic symbiosis, that is, they maintain a prolonged and mutually beneficial relationship with their host; while those who join or join later do not have that bond. “The hypothesis that I maintain is that probably the core fraction of the human microbiome, which extends to all or much of life, may constitute a mutualistic symbiosis, while the rest does not”, he said.

The purpose of the human microbiota research program is to demonstrate which microbes are in mutualistic symbiosis with their host, the role of the host on mutualistic microbes and, finally, the relations of benefit, neutrality or harm that are established between the microbes of the microbiome. “The spectacular advances of these studies have led us to infer that the entire human microbiome is a kind of beneficial actor for its host, but we must take into account that a good part of the microbiome, the one known as mutualist, also favours having evolved with his or her guest, who provides him or her with advantages over living outside him or her. We must continue working to determine precisely what are the microbes that have evolved in mutualist symbiosis with their host”, he concluded.


Andrés Laguna Keynote Lecture

The Andrés Laguna keynote Lecture is held every October in the Hall of the University of Alcalá. It aims to annually distinguish as Mastera relevant personality for his or her humanistic, scientific and medical contributions, which has contributed significantly to the development of Medicine and health care in the field of countries where culture develops Hispanic. In the previous editions, professors Manuel Serrano Ríos, Francisco Ayala, Antonio García, Carlos Belmonte, Jesús San Miguel, Salvador Moncada and Germán E. Berríos deserved the Andrés Laguna distinction of Master.


Lilly Foundation

Since 2001, the Lilly Foundation aims to contribute to the promotion of science, of medicine and of medical humanism. In the area of Science, it annually announces the Biomedical Research Awards, Dates with Science and supports various actions of scientific dissemination. In Medicine, initiatives such as the Chair of Medical Education, MEDES - MEDicina en Español or its health management program stand out. The Patient-Centred Medicine initiative and activities, based on the figure of the Spanish doctor and humanist Andrés Laguna or the dissemination of William Osler’s legacy, focus on the area of medical humanism.

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