Jeffrey I. Gordon, molecular biologist, Washington University School of Medicine
Scientists have finally found a way to help people shed pounds without their starving themselves. The plan hinges on a gene sequencer that identifies thousands of bacterial strains in the gut, including evolutionary holdovers from the days of hunting and gathering that help the body stockpile energy by storing calories in fat cells. A doctor can use the handheld device to determine within minutes the precise bacterial flora in a stool sample. If he sees an alarming number of fat-producing microbes, he simply prescribes antibiotics to kill them off. The patient quickly begins to extract fewer calories from food and store less of those extracted calories as fat.