We are embedded in a microbial world. Naturally occurring microbial communities play fundamental roles in the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles as well as in human health and disease, and provide essential services to mankind. Microbial consortia represent highly dynamic and heterogeneous systems, which exhibit enormous complexity at all levels.
My main research interests centre on the development and application of molecular systems biology approaches to obtain new knowledge of complex microbial communities (e.g. gastrointestinal microbiota), their interactions with their environment (e.g. the human host), and how certain microbial community compositions lead to certain outcomes (e.g. pathogenesis).
My group has pioneered high-resolution molecular methodologies allowing unprecedented insights into microbial community structure and function. The application of these wet-lab and in silico methods to the human gut microbiome has revealed broad perturbations of the functional repertoire in the context of disease. To test hypotheses, I have led the development of a patent-pending gut-on-a-chip model called HuMiX. Using HuMiX, my group is uniquely capable of simulating the molecular interactions between microbial and human cells under biomimetic conditions. The combination of state-of-the-art molecular analyses together with in vitro and in silico modelling is rapidly advancing our understanding of the functional role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease. Using the established methodological framework, my laboratory is currently tackling research questions surrounding the gut-brain axis with a particular focus on Parkinson’s disease.