The project objectives: association of bacterial genes with human health an disease

The central objective of our project is to establish associations between the genes of the human intestinal microbiota and our health and disease.  We focus on two disorders of increasing importance in Europe, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and obesity. The incidence of IBD has been increasing constantly during the past decades in Western Europe, and this dramatic trend is now observed in Eastern Europe as well. The global epidemic of obesity is well recognized and imposes a huge and rapidly growing challenge for the public health services.

To reach our central objective we carry out and integrate a number of different activities. First, we established an extensive reference catalog of microbial genes present in the human intestine. Second, we developed bioinformatics tools to store, organize and interpret this information. Third, we developed tools to determine which genes of the reference catalog are present in different individuals and at what frequency. Fourth, we gathered cohorts of individuals, some sick and some healthy, and determined for most which genes they carry. Fifth, we developed methods to study the function of bacterial genes associated with disease aiming to understand the underlying mechanisms and host/microbe interactions.

Our project must be integrated in the world we live in. For this purpose, we actively participate in the International Human Microbiome Consortium (IHMC), carry out transfer of technology to industry and help present the information about the project to the general public.