The Appendix as a Safe House

Overview

Randy Bollinger is a surgeon who operated on many people with appendicitis, and William Parker worked for years on the immunology of the gut. Working together since 1999, they discovered how the immune system supports the growth of bacteria in the gut. The most popular part of their work on this topic was the finding that the human appendix is a “safe house” for beneficial bacteria, answering a 400 year old question first posed by Leonardo de Vinci. (Leonardo made a guess about the function of the appendix, but it turns out that he was wrong. Since bacteria had not been discovered yet, he can hardly be blamed for being wrong.) Although scientists had known for almost a century that the appendix had some function, none had ever been described.    

Choose a button below to learn more about the appendix and its function.

The first three are scientific papers while the last three are science news articles.

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