Microbes and your health


What is the skin microbiome?

The trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on the skin all over our bodies is part of the microbiome. JAX Associate Professor Julia Oh studies the human microbiome for its potential to deliver treatments for infectious and other diseases.

Examining infectious disease, microbiome function, and our immune system for better human health

We are awash in microbes. From helpful bacteria that help us get nutrients from our food to infectious viruses (such as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) our bodies must coexist with our invisible neighbors at all times. But how does it all work?

A key part of the puzzle is our immune system. It provides an amazing defensive line against infectious microbes, armed with weapons to fend off attacks from many sources. Nonetheless, things can (and frequently do) go wrong. We do get sick—with anything from a stomach bug to COVID-19—and our body is seemingly constantly under siege. And disruptions in our microbiome (all the microbes in and on us) can make even beneficial microbes turn against us.

JAX scientists are studying our infectious pathogens, normal microbiomes, and our immune systems to help us live longer & healthier lives.

Learn more about how JAX is working to help us live better with our microbial counterparts!


It’s impossible to talk about infectious disease without bringing up one of the most widespread pandemics in modern history: COVID-19.

JAX was quick to join in  Coronavirus InformationIntegral to our mission to improve human health, JAX is committed to helping address the coronavirus pandemic as rapidly as possible.the fight against COVID-19 and has gone on to offer its services in the ongoing fight against this highly-infectious disease.

Other infectious disease

COVID-19 is but one of innumerable pathogens out in the world that we may have to face. Though our immune system typically can handle many of the diseases that are thrown at it, new ones may soon take their place.

JAX is active Infectious Disease ResearchLaunching a new effort in infectious disease research and immune response, with a focus on vaccine development and microbiome research.in infectious disease research and is working to better train our body’s internal defenses to repel invaders.


To understand how microbes affect our health, we must understand the constant and complicated relationships between them and our immune systems. How do immune cells recognize a pathogen and ignore a helpful microbial species? What can disrupt a healthy relationship with our microbiome? How can we maximize its response to new pathogens, like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19?

JAX researchers are working to Fine-tuning our immune response so drugs work better when time means everything.Immune system response and function underlies a broad spectrum of human diseases, including many not involving pathogens or specific immune disorders. Its roles in cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and more are under intense scrutiny, and greater understanding of the biology has tremendous potential to generate novel, effective clinical therapies.learn how it all works.


Microbiome’s involvement in our personal internal health was one of the more surprising findings over the last decade. It turns out that the complex landscape of microbes and bacteria that live in our skin, body, and gut are key indicators into many wider health factors: including how strong our immune system is.

 When good bacteria go bad… our bodies can turn against us.It is a new frontier in human health: Revealing the powers of our own microbes to fundamentally change our understanding of diseases of all kinds. JAX is leveraging this new research to find out how to help us stay healthier by keeping our microbiome happy.