Home to trillions of microorganisms, gut microbes are transforming our understanding of human health.
You’ve got trillions of microorganisms in your gut! Some are beneficial. Some are not. Collectively they are called your microbiome. And everyone’s microbiome is totally different.
Your microbes are important because they help you fight disease and absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Leading the way in researching the microbiome of the gut, we’re transforming our understanding of how ageing, what we eat and our lifestyle choices impact on our health. And how ultimately our microbes could help to reduce the massive burden faced by healthcare services worldwide.
Professor Ian Charles is the Director of the Quadram Institute that carries out pioneering research in partnership with UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, the Quadram Institute has a number of collaborative strategic programmes. These explore the links between intestinal microbes and disease and how diet affects the microbiome and our health. They also examine how pathogens adapt to survive in the food chain and evade our bodies’ defences.
Understanding microbial pathogens will help to reduce food poisoning and prevent the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. The team is discovering how microbes help to maintain gut barriers and immune functions and influence other physiological systems. Thanks to this knowledge, we’ll be able to develop intervention strategies based on novel foods, pharmaceuticals or microbial transplantation to prevent or treat diseases of the gut, and beyond, to help us all stay well as we age.
50% of your cells are non-human, microbial cells. We are what we eat!
"Thanks to our breakthrough interdisciplinary research, we’re beginning to understand how beneficial bacteria communicate with human cells to influence their behaviour. Now we want to uncover how a healthy microbiome is established at birth and how diet and lifestyle affect this as we age. We’re attracting world leaders in this area to come and work with us, which is a real endorsement of our combined expertise." - Professor Ian Charles, Professor in Biomedicine, Norwich Medical School and Director, Quadram Institute.