Imperial College London

Microbiome: Does it really matter to our health?

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Professors Julian Marchesi and Nicholas Grassly at the third CICH Seminar

Professors Julian Marchesi and Nicholas Grassly at the third Centre for International Child Health Seminar.

The Centre for International Child Health hosts seminar highlighting microbiome research.

On 13th July, the Centre for International Child Health (CICH), held its third event within the bi-monthly seminar series dedicated to International Child Health topics (#CICHSeminar). 

The CICH is one of the seven centres within the Institute of Global Health Innovation and facilitates multi-disciplinary research partnerships and educational activities for global child health, joining up existing international child health research activities within the College and beyond.

The seminar series focusses on pertinent issues in global child health and hosts guest speakers on a variety of subjects. The format of the seminar is a series of short presentations with a panel discussion at the end and active audience participation.

Microbiome and health 

The chosen topic for the seminar was 'Microbiome; Does it really matter for our health?'.

The microbiome consists of the genetic material within a microbial community. Our body’s microbiome is key in helping to promote the development of the immune system and to protect against pathogens. Although perceived as being critical to our health, there is still some debate as to how much the microbiome matters for different types of disease.

The session was organised by Professor Nick Grassly and Dr Ed Parker from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

The seminar was chaired by the CICH Director Professor Beate Kampmann, Department of Paediatrics and Prof Nicholas Grassly, Professor of Infectious Disease & Vaccine Epidemiology in the School of Public Health

The first presentation by Professor Julian Marchesi, Professor of Digestive health at Centre for Digestive and Gut Health was entitled ‘Gut Microbiome – its role in child health and development’ and gave an insight into

  • gut bacteria known to play a role in disease like IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), cancer, auto-immune disease and NCDs.
  • the concepts that could help give better understanding of the role of microbiome
  • its relationship between microbiome and drug efficacy
  • and how the knowledge of microbiome can increasingly be harnessed to treat and understand non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Dr Edward Parker, Research Associate at Infectious Diseases Epidemiology spoke on the topic ‘The intestinal Microbiome and oral vaccine immunogenicity’. His talk focused on:

  • the potential impact of microbiota on immunogenicity and efficacy of oral vaccines, such as against polio
  • Role of Enteric viruses is shaping OPV immunogenicity.
  • Data from a recent trial that tested the impact of antibiotics on microbiota and subsequent vaccine immunogenicity

Dr Alex Shaw, Research Associate, Faculty of Medicine, gave his presentation on ‘The neonatal microbiota: the foundation of future health?' The main points raised were:

  • Development of gut microbiota in newborns
  • Contribution of the microbiome to bloodstream infections and Necrotising Enterocolitis in neonatal health

A forth presentation by Dr Julie McDonald, Research Associate, Department of Surgery and Cancer, faculty of Medicine focussed on ‘The gut microbiome and autism spectrum disorder’ The outline of the talk were:

  • Autism spectrum disorder patients experience gastrointestinal dysfunction
  • Does the gut microbiome play a role in autism?
  • Aim to identify bacterial taxa and metabolites that may be involved in the disorder

Speaker presentations 

Download the speaker presentations as follows: 

View the event photos on Flickr here

    The next CICH seminar, ‘Malaria – can we ever get rid of it’ will take place on 15 September at 4.00pm in Anthony Rothschild lecture theatre on the St. Mary’s campus. Register here. Find out more about the CICH and its seminar series here.

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    Jo Seed

    Jo Seed
    Institute of Global Health Innovation

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    Krupa Shukla

    Krupa Shukla
    School of Public Health