The human intestinal tract is inhabited by 10-100 trillions of microbes comprised of thousands of different species, collectively called the microbiota. This microbial community has an immense capacity to affect host biology and is fundamental for the development of our immune system, for production of vitamins and hormones, the ability to process otherwise indigestible dietary polysaccharides, etc.
With recent discoveries and advances in genomic technologies, the capacity of this tremendous genome – which is far larger than our own - to impact health and disease can now be targeted.
There is no doubt that the microbiome plays a prominent role in physiology, and that a large portion of the circulating metabolites in our bodies are derived from the gut microbiota. An altered microbiome may trigger changes in human cellular activities, which in turn can cause, or render the person more susceptible, to disease.
Our overall aim is to clarify the role of bacteria associated with the human body in the development of disease. We use a translational approach which involves both human cohorts (to identify differences in microbial communities associated with the body in a state of disease) and germ-free animals (to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms promoted by specific bacteria).
By gaining understanding of the mechanisms that rule the dynamic interplay between the human body and its microbial communities, we create novel approaches and strategies for patient stratification and treatment.