Can You Trust Your Gut? Using the Microbiome to Cure Disease

Joseph Priestley Society
Thursday, February 13, 2020
11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

The Joseph Priestley Society welcomes a panel of industry leaders who will share their research data on human microbiota and discuss the role of microbiomes in various diseases.

New discoveries about the microbiome—the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the human body—are accumulating rapidly and will affect every aspect of medical practice in the coming decades. However, despite a proliferation of over-the-counter “probiotics” promising smoother digestion, a stronger immune system, and even a better mood, most microbiome-related product claims should for now be taken with a grain of salt.

Each person’s microbiome is a unique collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms, with a healthy microbiome required for the body to function properly.

Studies link the microbiome with various health issues, from autism and Alzheimer’s disease to celiac disease, asthma, allergies, and colon cancer. Increased understanding and recent discoveries suggest considerable potential for the development of microbiome-based diagnostics and therapeutics.




  • Maria L. Maccecchini (Moderator)
    Founder, President, and CEO, Annovis Bio
  • Mark Feitelson
    Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Temple University
  • Elliot Friedman
    Technical Director, Microbial Culture and Metabolomics Core, University of Pennsylvania


About the Series

The Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) promotes a deeper understanding of science, technology, and industry, with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Speakers are leaders from a wide variety of large and small chemical companies and the financial, consulting, and academic communities.

For more information about this event, please contact


Panelist Bios

Maria Maccecchini
Founder, President, and CEO, Annovis Bio

Maria Maccecchini founded Annovis Bio (formerly QR Pharma) in May 2008 to develop better therapeutics for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. She was previously partner and director of Robin Hood Ventures and MidAtlantic Angel Group; founder and CEO of Symphony Pharmaceuticals/Annovis, a biotech company that sold in 2001 to Transgenomic; general manager of Bachem Bioscience, the U.S. subsidiary of Bachem AG, Switzerland; and head of molecular biology at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

Maccecchini received her PhD in biochemistry from the Biozentrum at the University of Basel in Switzerland and completed a two-year visiting fellowship at Rockefeller University in New York City. She did her postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology and the Roche Institute of Immunology.

Mark Feitelson
Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Temple University

Mark Feitelson is a professor of biology and head of the Professional Science Master’s in Biotechnology program at Temple University, where he has been part of the faculty since 2007. Before moving to Temple, Feitelson was an associate professor of pathology and cell biology and head of the Molecular Diagnostics Lab in microbiology at Thomas Jefferson University.

Feitelson’s research interests have encompassed the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis B infection and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma on the cellular and molecular levels. He cofounded the biotechnology start-up SFA Therapeutics, which is developing anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor drugs from the gut microbiome.

Feitelson received his PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine. He was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 1980 to 1982.

Elliot Friedman
Technical Director, Microbial Culture and Metabolomics Core, University of Pennsylvania

Elliot Friedman is a senior research investigator in the Division of Gastroenterology, Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the technical director of the Microbial Culture and Metabolomics Core of the PennCHOP Microbiome Program, a campus-wide initiative to accelerate microbiome research.

Friedman’s research on host-microbiota interactions includes the dynamics of molecular oxygen at the intestinal mucosal interface, the bile acid–driven host-microbiota interaction in the small intestine, phytochemical metabolism by the gut microbiota, in vitro models of the human gut microbiota, the dysbiotic microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease, and physiochemical factors driving microbial colonization of the infant gut. In addition to his work on the human microbiome.

He holds a BS in environmental engineering from Lehigh University and an MS and a PhD in biological and environmental engineering from Cornell University.