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Meet the Editors: Cell Host & Microbe at
“A Gut-Systemic Axis of Metabolic Disease”


While traditionally viewed as only a means of digestion, the gut has taken on new importance as recent discoveries reveal that what happens in the gut sets the stage for health or disease throughout the body. Amanda Monahan, PhD, Scientific Editor at Cell Host & Microbe, will be exploring new insights about how gut signaling, the microbiome and metabolites orchestrate whole-body glucose and energy homeostasis at the upcoming meeting A Gut-Systemic Perspective of Metabolic Disease.

This meeting will cover underlying mechanisms of metabolic regulation, and the therapeutic potential of modulating the microbiome and/or related metabolites and signaling molecules to treat diabetes, obesity, and related disorders.  Spanning basic to translational investigations, the program will focus on microbial-host interactions and nutrient sensing mechanisms that mediate immunity, the gut-brain axis, and beyond to influence systemic metabolism and metabolic disease.

Follow up-to-the-minute coverage of the “A Gut-Systemic Perspective of Metabolic Disease” meeting on Twitter:

#KSmetabolic @KeystoneSymp

Here, Cell Host & Microbe Editor Amanda Monahan talks about how this meeting fits into her coverage for the journal

Why are you attending this conference? What do you hope to get out of it?

Dr. Monahan:  This conference is really coupling several facets that fall into our journal. The microbiome has become a core part of our journal. While we are not a microbiome-centric or specific journal, we definitely see a lot of microbiome papers and it has not plateaued. One reason I think that a plateau has not occurred is because of the constant expansion and branching observed in this field. The microbiome-metabolic axis is one of these expansions that continues to emerge, particularly as technologies get better and more refined. This not only expands our understanding of communication/interactions between the components of the microbiome or invading pathogens but also enlightens how the host benefits (or suffers) from the microbiome and vice versa.

The translational insights that will be offered from this meeting will help illustrate why our ‘basic’ understanding of these complex processes is so critical, both from disease development and therapeutic standpoints.

As Cell Host & Microbe expands into the clinical realm, this meeting promises to hit the full spectrum of our scope – from bench to bedside.

I am looking forward to seeing the latest work in this field. It is moving and evolving so fast, and meetings are really the best place to get a snapshot of a field’s current status to help project where it might be going. I am hoping to see a lot of unpublished work and meet/reconnect with the researchers behind it.


What do you enjoy most about attending Keystone Symposia conferences?

Dr. Monahan:

Keystone Symposia meetings really make it a priority to build in time to promote interactions amongst attendees.

So many conferences try to pack a tight schedule (maybe to make it in fewer days) that really leaves minimal time to talk with other attendees without missing something. Keystone Symposia also make sure that there is ample time to meet poster presenters at their posters, at their specified times. I really appreciate these characteristics about Keystone Symposia meetings.


What’s the best way for attendees to get in touch with you at the meeting?

Dr. Monahan: Feel free to email me in advance if you would like to catch up at some point (amonahan@cell.com) or if you see me, please feel free to come up and introduce yourself. I would be happy to set a time to talk or visit your poster, if you are presenting one.


What are the exciting things happening at your journal right now?

Dr. Monahan:

Cell Host & Microbe recently entered the clinical sphere.

In the summer of 2018, we launched our Clinical Translational Report format to capture “bench to bedside” studies. These studies span the preclinical through clinical work covered within the general scope of our journal. We have really enjoyed launching and continuing to grow this format for our journal.


CAREER INSIGHTS– What qualities do you think are important to be a good scientific editor?

Patience and empathy are two qualities that I think are not intuitive to think would be essential for this job. I think it goes under the radar how much work goes into each journal issue and each piece within an issue. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on, sometimes within other facets of the company (i.e. press, marketing, production, etc) and sometimes with the authoring group, for instance to make sure that a paper is positioned appropriately – written in a way that can be appreciated by a broad audience, yet not falling into the over-interpretation trap. These aspects take a lot of time and often time that you planned to have allocated to spending on other tasks. So, patience is key.

Empathy is important because it is important for editors to remember our time in the lab. This can help when author-based communication might get a little emotional. As an editor, you really have to step back and understand that the emotion is not personal but rather a by-product of many collective forces. It’s not always easy and it can require a thick skin, but empathy is more important than maybe what might be a more natural emotion in some cases.


About the Author

Amanda Monahan, PhD– Scientific Editor, Cell Host & Microbe (Cell Press)

I received my PhD in 2015 from UMBC in developmental and stem cell genetics, with an intradisciplinary collaboration in the chemistry department where I utilized rational drug design and synthetic chemistry. After my PhD, I did a brief post-doc as an American Cancer Society fellow at the UMass Medical School with Neal Silverman. As a post-doc, I leveraged the powerful genetic tools of the fruit fly to mechanistically understand how cytosolic innate immune factors respond to bacterial stimuli. I took what I learned in the fly and moved up the evolutionary tree to the mouse, where I studied the role of orthologous genes and pathways in intestinal inflammation and disease. I began at Cell Host & Microbe early 2018.



See More Editor Insights on the Keypoint Blog:

Meet the Editors: Salvatore Fabbiano, Cell Press’ New Journal “Med”, Seeks Stories at “The Global Virome” Meeting

Shannon Weiman
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.

Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a 47-year history of convening open, peer-reviewed conferences that connect the scientific community and accelerate life science discovery.