UK Med-Bio funds and supports three Research Fellowships. Through the use of novel high-throughput ‘–omics’ methods and data from large-scale projects and consortia, the goals of UK Med-Bio's Research Fellows are to understand how gut-derived microbial metabolites are produced, how genetic variation affects metabolite abundance in the context of chronic inflammation, and how to quickly identify interesting molecular-phenotypic relationships for further investigation.
Dr Antonio Berlanga
GENETICS OF METABOLOMICS AND INFLAMMATION IN LARGE EPIDEMIOLOGICAL COHORTS
Inflammation underpins many disease processes but remains poorly understood in chronic conditions, particularly in relation to metabolic changes. Novel high-throughput methods in genomics and metabolomics applied to large epidemiological cohorts allow in-depth study of how our genes and environment interact to initiate or perpetuate these mechanisms. Using a combination of computational and epidemiological approaches, Dr Antonio Berlanga will study how genetic variation affects metabolite abundance, particularly in the context of risk factors such as obesity and smoking. Ultimately, the goal will be to understand what chronic inflammation is, how our genetics contribute to it and the relationship to disease development.
Dr Lesley Hoyles
SYSTEMS BIOLOGY APPLIED TO THE IN VITRO AND IN VIVO HUMAN GUT MICROBIOME
Human health is linked with the functioning of the gut microbiota (predominantly bacteria living in our intestine). Bacteria in the intestine use carbohydrates, fats and proteins from our diets as their food, and produce from these foodstuffs various chemicals that influence our health. During her Fellowship, Dr Lesley Hoyles will use a unique, low-risk, multi-disciplinary approach integrating metatranscriptomics, metagenomics, metabolomics and computational biology to characterize bacterial use of dietary substrates in the human intestine, and how the metabolites gut bacteria produce from these foodstuffs influence human health. Understanding how gut-derived microbial metabolites are produced and how they interact with the host will allow development of strategies to modulate functionality of microbial populations towards improved human health.
Dr Deborah Schneider-Luftman
Multi-omics and epidemiologic data integration for disease mechanism research
One of the biggest advancements in modern medicine is the introduction of high-throughput ‘–omics’ technologies. Paired with large-scale cohort studies, long-term chronic diseases - such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and cancer - can now be explored at unprecedented scale and resolution. However, the numerical/ computational methods currently available cannot keep up with the amount and range of data generated. Dr Deborah Schneider-Luftman’s project proposes to address this problem through a computational and statistical approach: (i) Improve the discovery of causality relations; (ii) Integrate various data sources into multi-layers networks; (iii) Improve adjustment techniques for missing data. Through an integrated analysis system, it will be possible to highlight the most relevant genetic/molecular/phenotypic associations for specific diseases, but also for ranges of co-occurring conditions, so that they can be further investigated in clinical research.