Host-Microbe Interactions
The intestinal tract of metazoans harbors a dense collection of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiota. In humans, one such bacterial community encompasses up to 1000 species, and contains approximately as many microbial cells as there are mammalian cells in the body.
Importantly, the microbiota impacts strongly on host health: on the one hand, intestinal microbes perform or modulate functions that are key to the host’s physiology, such as digestion of fibers, tuning of the immune system, and protection against pathogens; on the other hand, however, they can promote multiple pathologies if their activity is dysregulated.
The gut microbiota is intimately related to the host immune system, in a symbiosis that is continuously maintained via by-directional dialogue between these two entities.
Our laboratory is interested in understanding the intricate relationship existing between intestinal microbes and the host immune system, and in exploiting the underlying principles to fight infectious and inflammatory diseases.
In particular, our laboratory’s research focuses on 3 main areas:
1) Understand how intestinal T cell responses can be potentiated through modulation of the microbiota, and utilize this knowledge to optimize mucosal vaccination strategies against infectious agents and tumors.
2) Investigate how host immune responses modulate the function of specific commensal bacteria, and define the impact of such rewiring on human health.
3) Dissect the effects of chronic inflammation on the pathogenic activity of potentially dangerous indigenous microbes (pathobionts), with a particular focus on the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).