Dr. Anil Adisesh
Inflammation, Infection & Immunity, Molly Appeal
As employers focus more on ensuring not just the safety but the long-term health of their employees, occupational medicine specialists like Dr. Anil Adisesh are in high demand. One of his priorities is lung disease in welders, who are more vulnerable to various kinds of lung disease.
“Welders face more than twice the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, compared to the general population, but it is not known why,” says Dr. Adisesh, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine who joined Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick from the U.K. in 2013. He is leading occupational medicine and research in the Maritimes as the J.D. Irving, Limited Research Chair in Occupational Medicine. “We suspect their heightened risk may be caused by welding-fume exposure-related changes in the numbers and mix of microbes—or, the microbiome—in their respiratory tracts.”
Dr. Adisesh and his colleagues—including Dr. Morgan Langille at Dalhousie Medical School’s Integrated Microbiome Resource—are comparing sputum samples from the lungs of welders and non-welders, to measure differences in their respiratory microbiomes. “Changes in the microbiome may change the immune system and make them more vulnerable to infection,” he says. “But this also points to the possibility that we could correct imbalances in the microbiome to provide protection.”
Some funds from Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s 2016-17 Molly Appeal will be used to develop new software tools and expertise to enable the rapid analysis of billions of bacteria (and the DNA of these bacteria) to shed light on the microbiome and its vitally important role in human health.
Dr. Adisesh’s interest in workplace health takes him beyond the factory. He has recently embarked on studies with colleagues to monitor the exposure to pathogens that can spread from animals to humans, such as snowshoe hare virus, Jamestown Canyon virus, and those that cause Lyme disease and eastern equine encephalitis. Tracing exposure rates in the general population will lay the groundwork for future studies of people who work outside, in fields and forests.