We live among a world of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and their hosts. In fact, the human body is home to trillions of microbes that help us absorb nutrients from our food and protect ourselves from diseases, and we rely on other beneficial microbes to make medicine and certain foods. But our bodies and the helpful microbes that we host inside of us are constantly defending against attacks from outside microbes that can make us sick.

These include Salmonella and other types of food sicknesses, colds, influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, and fungi that can cause ailments like athlete’s foot or Valley fever. Luckily, medical research institutes such as Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) are staying a step ahead of harmful microbes by using genomic technologies to study the evolution and transmission of pathogens to better protect our communities.

TGen North, home to TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division, is located in Flagstaff and has served Arizona for over 16 years. Sara Wilbur, Clinical Lab Supervisor, and Caroline Harms, Research Associate II, are hosting a guided hike for the 2023 Flagstaff Festival of Science.

Join Sara, Caroline, and other scientists at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff on Saturday, September 30 from 10 am to 12 pm for an Outdoor Microbe & Vector Tour throughout one of Flagstaff’s most scenic parks.

Hikers will learn about the some of the problematic regional and state pathogens in our environment and the vectors that can bring them into contact with humans, including ticks in Arizona and the plague that can be spread from fleas rather than prairie dogs. TGen North scientists will also explain how wastewater is used in the early detection of some pathogens like norovirus, in addition to how scientists can use genomic information to better understand and combat infectious diseases. Information and activities will be catered to young children so the entire family can understand the important work TGen North does to keep our communities informed and safe.

The Buffalo Park trail is a gravel walking loop with a moderate hill, so be sure to bring good walking shoes, water, and sun protection. This tour takes place on Sept. 30th, at 10:00 a.m.

Learn more about TGen and the important work they do here: https://www.tgen.org/patients/pathogen-microbiome.