Our Research

Our lab studies many aspects of the host-microbiome interactions and its involvement in human health and disease. Beyond the gut microbiome, we also look into other microbial niches in the mammalian body like the skin, respiratory and urogenital tracts. Each of them are unique, and an altered communication with their host lead to disease development. Therefore, we focus on the role of the microbiome in a variety of human disorders ranging from metabolism, cancer, IBD, auto-immunity, to even neurodegeneration.

The Microbiota

Approximately 50% of the human body consists of non-human cells. The microbiota colonizing our skin, intestine, respiratory tract, mouth, and urogenital tract consists of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, whose genes collectively outnumber the amount of human genes by a factor of 100.

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Immunity Inflammation & IBD

Sensing platforms of the innate immune system are critical for orchestrating the communitcation between the human body and its microbial environment. We are studying the integrative activity of multiple platforms at mucosal surfaces - the place of intimate contact between the host and the world surrounding it.

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One of the most fascinating and curious relationships between the microbiome and extra-intestinal organs involve the nervous system, a circuit termed the "gut-brain axis". It is well known that members of the microbiome metabolize compounds required for the formation of neurotransmitters, and that changes in the microbiome composition and function have been associated with neurological and psychiatric diseases, however little is known about the biological pathways that link the microbiome to neurodegenerative diseases and ways to circumvent them.

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The metabolic system regulates food intake, nutrient uptake, catabolic and anabolic pathways, as well as the distribution of nutrients within the human body. Proper function of the metabolic system is essential for health. Dysfunction of key metabolic elements manifest in the metabolic syndrome, one of the most common diseases worldwide.

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Cancer is one of the most common causes of death worldwide. More than 90 percent of all cancers are not caused by germline mutations, but rather by acquired somatic mutations and environmental factors. Intriguingly, the microbiota has recently emerged as one such environmental factor, shedding light on previously unexpected mechanistic connections between microbial colonization and neoplastic transformation.

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The microbiome orchestrates metabolic processes in the host through various mechanisms, including digestion of nutrients, regulation of energy harvest from diet, and production of metabolites which exert local and systemic effects on the host and activation of the immune system. This relationship is bidirectional, as intake of exogenous substances, namely food, but also food additives, antibiotics and other medications, may in turn shape and alter the microbiome.

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