Developing, feeding and restoring the human microbiome

Our gut is home to a large community of microbes and there is a growing realisation that this microbiome has an important influence on our health. At the Quadram Institute we are seeking to better understand the microbiome and uncover the mechanisms by which if affects health. With this increased understanding, we will be able to develop new therapies and treatments to combat diseases and maintain wellbeing throughout life.

Join us to hear from three key researchers from across the UK giving us an insight into this exciting area of science.

Dr Lindsay Hall 
Quadram Institute, Norwich
Development of the microbiome in early life

Lindsay Hall

Research Leader

Quadram Institute

I qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Glasgow in 2003. I then went on to study for a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (University of Cambridge) under the supervision of Prof Gordon Dougan.

In 2007 I took up a postdoctoral position at the APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork in Ireland. During my time in Cork, I moved into a new mucosal immunology area focused on intestinal inflammatory disorders. My research utilised experimental Ulcerative colitis and enteric pathogen models to understand the protective role of early mucosal immune responses (including NK cells) during acute intestinal inflammation. In Cork, I also started to work on the bacterial communities that inhabit the gut, termed the microbiota, specifically understanding the role of individual members (i.e. Bifidobacterium) and their products (exopolysaccharide capsules) in modulating the critical commensal-host interaction.

I returned to the UK in 2011 to take up a lecturing and Principle Investigator position within the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia. In 2013 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to study the role of early life gut microbiota in colonisation resistance development and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2014. In 2015 I moved to the Institute of Food Research as the Microbiome Research Leader and my team studies the early life microbiota in health and disease.

Dr Alan Walker
Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen
Diet and the microbiota

There is a clear connectivity between diet, intestinal microbial communities and host health. The composition and activity of the intestinal microbiota appears to be heavily impacted by host diet, with non-digestible carbohydrates providing the major energy source for many intestinal bacteria. In turn, much evidence now suggests that many of potential risks and benefits to host health that are associated with particular diets may be at least partially mediated via the microbiota. As such, there is now accumulating interest in modulating the composition and activities of the human intestinal microbiota via changes in diet to improve host health.

Alan Walker

Senior Lecturer

University of Aberdeen

I am a microbiologist by training with specific interests in the bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of mammalian hosts, particularly in humans and mice. After receiving a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Aberdeen I studied for my PhD at the Rowett Institute and at the University of Dundee, specialising in gut microbiology and the role that intestinal bacteria play in the breakdown of dietary fibre. Following my PhD I spent eight years doing postdoctoral research at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute before moving to my current post as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. My current research uses a combination of state of the art anaerobic culturing and DNA sequencing techniques to better characterise gut microbial communities and shed light on the roles these microbes play both in health and in disease.

Professor Arjan Narbad
Quadram Institute, Norwich
Faecal microbiota transplants

Arjan Narbad

Research Leader

Quadram Institute

I graduated from Leeds University with a BSc in Microbiology. I then moved to Cardiff University and obtained a PhD in microbial metabolism of xenobiotic compounds. After a short postdoctoral position in the Biochemistry department of Cardiff University I joined the Institute of Food Research, Norwich in 1989 and have worked on a number of industrially funded biotechnology projects on the engineering of lactic acid bacteria and yeast for production of novel food ingredients and antimicrobials.

Currently I am the translational microbiome group leader at the Institute where my research is focused on understanding the role of gut bacteria in health and disease of humans and animals.

My group has developed probiotic bacteria for reducing the levels of foodborne pathogens such as Campylobacter from the food chain. I have worked on the relationship between gut microbiota and specific gastrointestinal disorders; IBS and Ulcerative Colitis. In collaboration with clinicians at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital my group is actively involved in setting up a bacteriotherapy service for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infections, and are exploring how the exploitation of new technologies could be used to improve the diagnosis of gastrointestinal infections.

I have been appointed a Visiting Professor at Jiangnan University in China and have recently established a BBSRC funded UK-China joint centre for research on probiotics.

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