David Good
Good and women of the village of Irokae-Teri, including his mother (far left)
2023

David Good

Author and Filmmaker

yanomami wisdom

meet david

David Good is a member of the Yanomami tribe, an explorer, author, filmmaker, and a PhD student in microbiology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. His general research goal is characterizing the structural and functional microbial diversity of his Yanomami family, the Irokae-Teri, located in the Amazon Rainforest of Venezuela. David is Executive Director and Co-founder of the Yanomami Foundation (f.k.a. The Good Project). He and his team mount expeditions to remote areas of the Yanomami territory to support projects in health, research, education, and cultural preservation.

yanomami wisdom
Nominated by: Brianna Rowe MI'11 Paul Rosolie FR'16
Class of 2023 Location Pennsylvania, USA
David Good and his cousin
David Good and his cousin

For decades, Yanomami communities have faced an invasion of illegal gold miners, devastating epidemics, cultural degradation, and environmental destruction. A major part of my mission is to confront the threat to the survival of the Yanomami people and their rainforest home in the Amazon. The Amazon ecosystem stabilizes the world climate and is a source of medicine and healing for the diseases of today and tomorrow. The Yanomami people, with their boundless knowledge of the Amazon, are critical in preserving this precious ecosystem.

My work also pioneers discovery research and exploration of the human microbiome, the collection of all the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in and on our bodies. The public has become increasingly aware of how microbes play a critical role in human development and the maintenance of the immune system. However, industrialization has led to a massive decline of microbial diversity due to the overuse of antibiotics, consumption of ultra-processed foods, along with limited interaction with the environment, sedentary lifestyles, and extreme sanitation practices. Research has shown that an imbalanced microbiome is linked to chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, irritable bowel disease, asthma, allergies, and colorectal cancer, to name a few.

“The Amazon ecosystem stabilizes the world climate and is a source of medicine and healing for the diseases of today and tomorrow. The Yanomami people, with their boundless knowledge of the Amazon, are critical in preserving this precious ecosystem.”

- David Good

The Yanomami rarely—if at all—suffer from these diseases. My Yanomami family is of great interest in the microbiome field since they have maintained much of their traditional and ancestral customs, living fully immersed in the rainforest environment, and subsisting by an active lifestyle of hunting-gathering and small-scale gardening. Their relative isolation in the Amazon limits their exposure to microbiome stressors brought on by Westernization. I am exploring what may be one of the world’s last intact human microbiomes. What we learn could have a profound impact on human health by helping to reverse the alarmingly growing rate of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

there are 49 other visionary explorers

read about the class of 2023