Radio Cade

Fixing IBS and Colorectal Cancer

July 24, 2019 Dr. Christian Jobin Season 1 Episode 41
Radio Cade
Fixing IBS and Colorectal Cancer
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Radio Cade
Fixing IBS and Colorectal Cancer
Jul 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 41
Dr. Christian Jobin

Dr. Christian Jobin, a professor of medicine, is an expert on how microorganisms behave in the intestine. When they behave badly, this can lead to conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer. “Academically I wasn’t very gifted,” Jobin says, and at first he didn’t have the grades to get into college. Instead, he went to a community college and trained as a technician, before eventually getting a PhD in Microbiology. Among other bits of wisdom, Jobin advises prospective researchers to “have fun.”  

Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Christian Jobin, a professor of medicine, is an expert on how microorganisms behave in the intestine. When they behave badly, this can lead to conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer. “Academically I wasn’t very gifted,” Jobin says, and at first he didn’t have the grades to get into college. Instead, he went to a community college and trained as a technician, before eventually getting a PhD in Microbiology. Among other bits of wisdom, Jobin advises prospective researchers to “have fun.”  

Intro:

Inventors and their inventions. Welcome to Radio Cade a podcast from the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville, Florida. The museum is named after James Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade in 1965. My name is Richard Miles. We'll introduce you to inventors and the things that motivate them, we'll learn about their personal stories, how their inventions work, and how their ideas get from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Richard Miles:

Gut instinct, guts and glory. Go with your gut. I'm your host, Richard Miles. And today we'll be talking about the gut with Dr. Christian Jobin, a Gatorade trust professor of medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Welcome to the show Dr. Jobin.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Richard. Thank you for having me.

Richard Miles:

So mind if I call you Christian or Christian? Okay, great. So before we talk about the research, let's talk a little bit about your title. What exactly is a Gatorade trust professor?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Well, the Gatorade trust professor was born, I guess, from the discovery of Robert Cade an associate of Gatorade drinks. So portion of the process royalty goes through a university, especially the department of medicine and they use it for research and they wanted to support me for years to come to continue my research. It was a great honor to have that as salary support. It's not the money research, it's just support salary so that when I get grants, I could divert this money to support my staff and not me. So it's a great tool to have freedom of doing research.

Richard Miles:

Right. So it acts a little bit like seed funding covers your costs and that thereby makes other grants more useful right?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

It gives you a little bit more room to breathe and your research enterprise, because you have money.

Richard Miles:

Okay. So now let's talk about your research. And from what I understand, it, it focuses on host, microbe interaction, the intestine, and especially how disrupted interactions cause problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancer. So can you break that down for us? Tell us what does that mean? You know, what are hosts? What are microbes and how are they supposed to act in the intestine? And what's a normal intervention?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Well, Richard, as you may know, and your listeners, we are almost born germ-free, which is without any bacterial viruses, we evolve in a terrible from a mother. And as we go through the birth canal, we got colonized by bacteria, almost instantaneously. So we have microorganism that start to colonize inside our bodies . And one of the big p lace that these m icroorganism a re going is in the a ntis time. So we c alled that in microbiota and these assembled of microbes are very important for life. So we acquired them as we h ave b orn and we keep them on until we die. And they are very important to inform us of the environment, either by the diet we eat, the stress and medication, these microbes react to that, and they are either helping you evolve in the health, or they may be on the bad side of it and then could cause disease. So it's a very important set of microorganism that we need to care so that the host is us human and the bacteria, or the microbiota is the assemble of microorganism.

Richard Miles:

So just to make sure I have this correct, this starts from the minute we're born, or even before we are born?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Well , this is contentious whether or not it started before. And it's people that think I'm amniotic fluid has some macro organism. It's not clear. So I won't go there because we may have an argument. But for sure, when we are born through either C-section or birth canal, C-section, you will have microbes from the skin of the mother. And those are different , uh , birth canal. You won't have the microbes from the vaginal biota, and then you are seeded. And it's a very simple seeding, very few microorganism. And as you evolve through your childhood, up until age three, you're going to collect a lot of microorganism. And when you reach three years old, then you get pretty much stable on this. You have exposure to repetitive antibiotics as you're young and sick, that will disrupt your biota. But usually yet from three years of age, you will have a stable, fully mature set of microorganism that he acquired through exposure with the environment or the mother, because we're seeded by your mother.

Richard Miles:

Right. And so the biota in your intestine, I imagine there's a range of what's considered normal or healthy. And that is what affected by environmental factors, genetic,

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So we are very different. I mean, you're closer to the biota of your family, but you're different from the neighbor and different from France . So close proximity tend to get you by different transmission biota, so that's how you transfer them. But family are more similar, but every single of us have a different microbiome. I did this exercise in the lab with my team. We finalized the microbiome of every single member and we could see how different they were and it started questioning what kind of diet and exposure the people in the lab, which are all healthy. Why do they have this microbe so different than another person and starting a conversation about lifestyle. So it's quite fascinating actually, but yes, we are different. And these differences don't mean that you're smarter or more healthy. It's just a collection of bugs that are different. The big breaking point in the health issue with microorganism is when you have it drastic rupture of microorganism function, that then influence disease. So that's what I study basically.

Richard Miles:

So do you have like a , a prize in your lab for like cleanest gut or, you know, messiest gut, or some, it's kind of intimidating.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

No, actually , actually we have not defined , it everyone has a number, so we didn't want to put names. We have a chart, we had described the microbiome, so we didn't want it to have a name attached. So that was more anonymous, but people kind of broke the code and know who is who, and they want it , Hey, how come you have this bug? And I like to have this bug because it's associated with health. So it was almost like a price that they was one or two person that wa s l ike very high content of microorganism that everyone wanted to have. Right?

Richard Miles:

Right. So, but I imagine you don't spend your entire day just looking at healthy people, right. That's not what doctors do. So tell us what, you know, what is going on in terms of unhealthy biota and what is your research found and why exactly are you studying it ?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Right. So, because we acquire micros or very early on, and these microbes perform very important tasks for health and they formed something called a network of health, and that's called this and in condition where people exposed to Mid-City and mitigation of chronic antibiotics, you disrupt this network and disease such as inflammatory bowel disease, because I'm interested in the gut, shows a signature, a fingerprint of microbes. That's different in these patients then LT subject . So these what we call case and control differences in microbiomes intriguing, and the research visit in general also found that colorectal cancer patient also have a different set of network microbes organization. So for us in the land was try to understand the functional consequences. When you have differences. It doesn't mean that they are implicated in a disease onset. It may be just a side show and phenomenon. Oh, by the way, this is a consequence, not the causation. So what we tried to do in the nineties to see, identify microorganism, that could be causative of disease like IBD or colorectal cancer.

Richard Miles:

I see. So does it have a predictive function? So if I were to go in and get my biota tested, I might not have IBD, but you might be able to tell me, well, you have a profile that you better watch out. Is that correct?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yeah Richard, you're exactly right on the money. That was the goal. I mean, in medicine, some physician and researcher thought that that could be a marker. So if I collect feces, stools of individual and then the lines in their microbiome, could I say, well, you're having a collection of microorganism that fit people that develop IBD . What could we do about that? This is an open question. We don't have the answer for this , but there is clinical trial right now that tried to replace these microorganisms . They will give you a brand shiny new microbiome by a technique we call fecal microbiota transplant FMT. So they will give you a healthy donor microbiota to replace your defective one. It's not ready for prime time. So there's two aspects to your question.

Richard Miles:

It doesn't sound easy.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Well, no, I mean, actually it's not that bad. I mean, you have either anemia, they come from the back or oral with an upper scope and they will deliver these microorganism that comes with, you know, they could be an infusion or it could be an appealed form of pill.

Richard Miles:

So that's the actual treatment?But on the production side diagnostic, is this something that somebody could do easily one day at their primary care physician, they go in, they get a sample t ested a nd that?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Well, IBD less. So for colorectal cancer, there is a research, it's pretty advance, and the prediction has been the most rendered proof of principle that you predict is already there. It's not at the bench side or the clinical environment yet, but if someone wants to bring it, they will have a proof of principle as possible. The question is how strong is the predictive value? So everyone talked about Colonna Gar , and they have a screening tool you could do at the home with your feces. And that's interesting, but when you have a false positive, so it says, Oh, you have a chance to have colorectal cancer. Actually, you don't, it's a false positive people get nervous. And a false negative is also bad because you don't know. So you want to narrow this gap. And this is where we are with the microbiome. It's feasible to do it, but we'll want to decrease this false positive negative rate. And it may come to the clinic actually.

Richard Miles:

Right. Christian, is there other research that you're working on at the moment or are you focused entirely on this problem?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

We don't work on predictive value of microbiome for colorectal cancer. We working on predictive value of response to drug against cancer. So if I give you this medication, you have a high chance because you have these microbes to have a high response to the medication . So it makes you higher responder and maybe having a higher chance to survive cancer. So you want to give the drug with the best effective way and not waste time on a drug that will not work for you. And the microbiome may have this prediction. So this is on YouTube now is on YouTube. We want to know if microorganism could be analyzed in a way that I will say a patient. Number one is not responding to this drought . If I could give this patient XYZ, microorganism, that patient will respond. So it's very powerful.

Richard Miles:

I see. So, a lot of the guests on the show are inventors. Who've already identified a technology, they've tested it out and they're kind of on their way to market. But in your case, you're still very much in the primary research phase, right? You're not exactly certain or not necessarily even trying to find that commercial application yet. This is something, hopefully that one day someone will be able to either put, I guess, into a drug form or some sort of process right?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yeah, Richard you're right. I mean, there's a lot of actions from Pharma, either startup or mid sized pharmaceutical companies that are including this type of therapeutic link with microbiome, either for predictive value of drugs or responsiveness or to block or terminate disease. So my fecal microbiota transplant, so we are in the early, so what we tried to do is generate intellectual properties on specific microorganisms that we think could be useful if you want to link them to drug XYZ . So we don't test them in patient, but I could protect this IP through the Gatorade foundation and the help of the University of Florida so that a company will like to maybe acquire license. And then they do the clinical work because there's so much an investigator could do. I was not interested in starting a company, whereas other people very good at that, but I could give them target and tools that he could use to move this to the clinic.

Richard Miles:

Right. Which is really the first step in that kind of, it's gotta be a good idea.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yes. Well , you have to be a good idea. So we prove by animal model . So we could take feces of patient that have been shown to respond to drug. We put that in a mouse versus a one model, any model versus feces of patient that have shown not to respond, and then we could identify microbes. So at least we have preclinical evidence that the cocktail that we put in is working and then we'd give it, protect that and pass it to football to the next layer. Right.

Richard Miles:

Christian, let's talk some about your personal background. And , and as you said, your accent is already revealed you not to be probably from Iowa, but neither are you from France, right? I mean, you were your true blue Canadian?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

I'm French Canadian . So that's a province on the East coast of Canada next year, Ontario , if you know your geography and I was born in Trois-Rivières. Which is between Montreal and Quebec along the St. Lawrence river. It's a big river, 80% of people in Quebec live around the St. Lawrence river, but it's huge. Quebec is six times the size of the house, but yet we have 8 million people. But then my parents moved to a small village called Saint Louis de France. It looks very exotic Saint. Louis de France really. And I was like one traffic light, u h, one middle school and one church, but I was a great place to grow because I had a lot of wild around me, wil dlife. S o we could go and with buddies goi ng hu nting and fishing and pretending we are pioneer dis coverer of the wildness. So it was a great place to live, but there was a rural, very rural, it's not the place that you get your exposure to th e big science. Let 's sa y that.

Richard Miles:

Tell me about your parents for either one of them, a researcher i n scientific fields?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Oh , my mom was a housewife and my dad was working for store manager sales representative. And then later on became a manager of a radio station where he was part of the advertisement selling. So sometimes I was going to his studio and I was recording advertisement .

Richard Miles:

I knew you're a natural. There's something here, you've done this before.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

I wanted to see the playback of that because I remember I was on the radio when they were making you repeat a very simple two sentences. And I was like, I can't remember seven or so.

Richard Miles:

If the Cade Museum ever needs commercials in French we're going to call you.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yeah, I could do that. So that was the environment. No one was a scientist and my brother was mostly in the business side and my sister also more administration. So I was kind of the exception.

Richard Miles:

Do you remember at all as a child or maybe even in high school, when did you start gravitating towards science? Was there a particular moment that you remember or was it just, you always liked those sorts of subjects better?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

You know, it's hard to define that. I mean, I remember getting a chemistry set and microscopes and they must have given me that because I was interested in science. Right? I remember I was in the chemistry, dark chemistry. I was trying to invent compounds and make stuff. So they gave me this chemistry kit that was spending a lot of time playing with not following the rules of the booklet, not how to do this and that . But,

Richard Miles:

So were there a lot of explosions in your house?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yeah, well, yeah there were moments where I, I should not have done that, but I think it was given to me because I was interested in biology and how things work and observing, and that kind of put the seed inside my head, but academically, I was not very gifted, so they weren't , and they was a problem here.

Richard Miles:

Really? but you did your initial studies in Montreal, correct? Right?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Right. So I did what we call college community college. I wanted to go to university, but again, my grades were not good. So I ended up doing a technical degree in biochemistry, so a technical degree, three years. So I could be a technician in the lab. And because there was more hands-on things, again, I'm more an artistic type. I like to have control and think about stuff. And that degree led me to do that. So without the hardcore studying both book and intensity that you see in university, but after the three years and the rotation in different place and decided to go to Quebec city in a college, tried to catch up on courses that I needed to go to university. So when I had all the courses and I enter the university in a program , uh , in microbiology and , uh, I was a hard reality check on that , how difficult it is. And I was not well-prepared . So I remember getting a letter from the director of the program after my first semester. And they were saying that your grade is too low we'll have to kick you out. If you don't move this up. The greater maximum is five. And I had 2.4. So it was a failure. And it was difficult, you know , because it had difficulty readings and I'm memorizing things. But I made it, I made it through, in the final degree, baccalaureate and I, I didn't have the score to get to graduate school. So I had to go meet the director and plead my case. I'm good with that. I could interact with people. I convinced him that he was not making a mistake, letting me in graduate school. And when I got in, it was much better because now I was in the lab, I could do stuff. And really from there I got A's and it really changed my life.

Richard Miles:

So I hope you saved that letter from the deans, that when you get your Nobel prize, you can read from it at the podium.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Actually, I went back to the director and he retired now , but I gave a talk to Quebec and I talked to him and he came to my talk without me asking. And he came to my talk. He said, I remember the day you were in my office. And I'm very happy. We did that. So, yeah, you don't know.

Richard Miles:

In the Cade Museum, we actually do have a letter from Dr. Cade's fourth grade teacher home to his parents. His mother is saying that he was never going to really amount to anything, he's so disruptive in class. You prevented other people from learning. So we have it. Christian, at the end of the show, we always offer each guests the opportunity to dispense words of wisdom. And you've been in your career long enough to where, you know , if you were to see a young researcher today, what are the things that you would say, you need to think about this, no matter the discipline, and then try to avoid these things, or do you have a list that you carry around in your head?

Dr. Christian Jobin:

From , from where I started, I will say, if you have a passion to something you need to follow it. My mistake would have been to keep doing the technical degree and entered the job market. None of that, it's not a good proficient is that it was not a fit for me. Follow your passion. If there's an obstacle, try to get the resource around and keep going. And once you don't have the passion, then you need to start looking around and said , what could I do? But usually if you have the passion, you could plow through obstacles and don't get discouraged and have fun. If it's not fun, then you may think that I'm not doing this for the excitement. I'm doing it for some sort of, I need a job and nothing wrong with that. But I think the passion drives you through a lot of obstacles that will be in front of you when you try to reach the goal.

Richard Miles:

So it's interesting. You're actually the first guest . It is actually mentioned fun,

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Yeah, fun!

Richard Miles:

Everyone else talks about hard work and diligence or anything you want. I'm not saying it's not hard, but important point. I think you're right. You've got to ask yourself why you're doing this. And if you're not having at least a little bit of fun, maybe when you're doing something wrong. Christian, thanks very much for coming on the show this morning and hope to have you back at some point and best of luck with your research.

Dr. Christian Jobin:

Absolutely. Thank you so much. Great pleasure .

Richard Miles:

I'm Richard Miles

Outro:

Radio Cade, would like to thank the following people for their help and support Liz Gist of the Cade Museum for coordinating and vendor interviews. Bob McPeak of Heartwood Soundstage in downtown Gainesville, Florida for recording, editing and production of the podcasts and music theme. Tracy Collins for the composition and performance of the Radio Cade theme song, featuring violinist, Jacob Lawson and special thanks to the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention located in Gainesville, Florida.