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BIO 94 W — Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease: An Introduction to the Microbes Within

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Feb 18—Mar 22
Drop Deadline: Feb 21
Unit: 1
Tuition: $340
Instructor(s): Tobi Schmidt
Limit: 55
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is February 21 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is February 26 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Feb 18—Mar 22
5 weeks
Drop By
Feb 21
1 Unit
Tobi Schmidt
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is February 21 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is February 26 at 5:00 pm (PT).
The microbes that live on and in us are collectively known as the microbiota. Studies have demonstrated that the gut microbiota exert a strong influence over our health. In particular, the bacteria residing in our digestive tract can influence a spectrum of diseases. Unhealthy lifestyle, especially a poor diet, are key factors contributing to the types of gut bacteria that promote diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, depression, and even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent discoveries show that gut microbiota can be modulated by lifestyle choices and that healthy and unhealthy populations of bacteria can be predicted based on specific lifestyle patterns.

In this course, students will be introduced to the key microbiota that have a profound influence on our health. We will explore how they exert this influence and what lifestyle factors contribute to healthy and unhealthy gut microbiota populations. The course emphasis is on the role of diet in influencing the gut microbiota and our overall health. However, we will also explore other lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep, and stress, and how they can modulate gut bacteria.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 55 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Tobi Schmidt, Immunotherapy Researcher; Personal Health Advisor

Tobi Schmidt focuses on educating healthcare professionals and individuals in order to provide a better understanding of human health and disease. She has conducted research focused on modulating the immune system and its environment to improve immune function in fighting disease. This area of study, known as immunotherapy, is one of the newest tools in the fight against cancer. Schmidt received a PhD from the Stanford School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and has also researched cures for diseases in academic and pharmaceutical labs.