The main focus of our group “Functional Host-Microbiome Research” is the role of the interactions between the host and its associated microorganisms – the microbiome. Microorganisms have historically been regarded solely as pathogens from which we need to protect ourselves from and to that end developed a sophisticated immune system. In the past years we and others have shown that we all live in close association with a vast diversity of microorganisms that not only contribute to various physiological processes including our immune responses, metabolism and even behavior, but also protect from pathogenic infections. Dysbiosis, meaning disturbances of these homeostatic host-microbiome interactions, are associated with a range of inflammatory, metabolic and other diseases. However, the involved molecular pathways and the functional impact of these associations largely remain to be elucidated. Our mission is to functionally understand the intricate and complex interactions between the host, its associated microbiome and environmental factors that together determine a healthy homeostasis of the metaorganism. A particular focus lies on selection mechanisms shaping the intestinal ecosystem and how the microbiome contributes to host metabolism (e.g. glycolysis) as well as immune responses along with dysregulation of these interactions during disease. These projects aim to develop novel strategies for treating common metabolic and inflammatory disorders by targeting the microbiome. To that end we employ a combination of gnotobiotic in vivo conditional knockout models, functional in vitro organoid systems and novel high-throughput “omics” technologies such as next generation sequencing or metabolomics.
More detailed information on specific projects can be found here: