Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research & Ideas

Search this site

​David Relman: What dolphins can teach us about our own health

On the Future of Everything radio show, an infectious disease expert discusses how the microbes in the sea mammal’s mouths help us understand our own relationship with bacteria.

Dolphin jumping out of the water

One very specific microbiome—a dolphin’s mouth—has revealed many types of bacteria previously unknown to science | iStock/RugliG

From weaponized anthrax to killer strains of bird flu, we often hear only the worst of the worst when it comes to the microbes who share our world.

The truth, however, is far from horrific. Bacteria do far more good for us than bad, and most viruses are harmless.

In this episode, host Russ Altman, professor of bioengineering, talks to infectious disease expert David Relman about his studies of one very specific microbiome—the mouths of dolphins—which have revealed many types of bacteria previously unknown to science.

Relman offers a sobering (and encouraging) assessment of risks and benefits of getting to know the microbial world. The discussion that touches on everything from biosecurity to microceuticals to do-it-yourself fecal transplants.

Listen in on the Future of Everything radio show.

Get Updates from Stanford Engineering