Dr Johanna Simkin is the brains behind new Melbourne Museum exhibition Gut Feelings: Your Mind, Your Microbes, delving into the link between mental health and gut health. It draws on a diverse body of research to separate the real from the hype, utilising Dr Simkin’s PHD in neuroscience and history in biomedical research looking at stem cells, gut health, genetics and more.

Gut Feelings explores new revelations that our minds, guts and microbes are inextricably linked. Visitors will be introduced to cutting edge research that articulates the far-reaching impact of gut microbes in the body; illustrating a new level of understanding of how the human body works. Made possible by advances in technology and stringent research, this visually stunning exhibition aims to separate scientific facts from the hashtag fads.

Gut Feelings is not some stuffy old-fashioned museum exhibit with labels and things in glass cabinets. This multi-sensory experience is a prime example of how museums are engaging with visitors in new and unexpected ways. Art installations and object displays will leave you awestruck at the power of your own ecosystem; the helpful microbiome. There will be things to touch, splendid sounds, and unexpected sights. Move through spaces that use real science as a basis to challenge assumptions about what is inside you and the way that it works.

Dr Simkin explains how diverse gut health is for each person. “Around one to two kilograms of you is microbes, and we’re just now discovering the powerful reach of these little helpers,” she said. “Every month, new research further reveals the detail and precision of these microbe effects—it’s given us a whole new understanding of how the human body works.”

From poo transplants to probiotic rich diets, potential health applications could cure peanut allergies, decrease anxiety, and even form future autoimmune therapies. “We don’t know if there is a single ultimate microbiome – yet,” Dr Simkin says. “Fecal microbe transplants are an amazing research tool revealing these details and are being used as a therapy for serious gut problems.”

Meet your microbes when Gut Feelings: Your Mind, Your Microbes opens 16 March at Melbourne Museum.

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