A cross-border research centre to better understand the microbiome
Scientists from the Universities of Liège, Aachen, Maastricht and Venlo (UM campus) have just set up the Euregional Microbiome Center, a high-level research centre to better understand the viruses, bacteria, fungi and other microbes that live in our bodies. At the ULiège level the project is led by the BIO3 research group (GIGA/Montefiore Institute), which works at the intersection of biostatistics, biomedicine and bioinformatics.
he microbiome of the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and genitals plays a crucial role in human health. The gut microbiome, for example, forms a natural barrier against pathogens, supports digestion and plays a key role in the development of our immune system and even our brain. Knowledge of the microbiome is therefore essential not only for a healthy life, but also for the treatment of disorders such as allergies, obesity and chronic intestinal and pulmonary diseases. Researchers from Maastricht University and the University Medical Centre Maastricht (Venlo), the University of Liège and the University Hospital Aachen wanted to work together to better understand the functioning of the microbiome, the billions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in and on our bodies.
The Euregional Microbiome Center brings together laboratories with expertise in different areas of microbiome research. The strength of the Maastricht scientists lies in the knowledge of the microbiome in relation to nutrition, lifestyle and disease in large-scale population studies. Researchers at the University Medical Centre Maastricht focus on the effects of nutrition and probiotics on the gut flora in specially designed artificial intestines. Scientists in Aachen are studying, among other things, the interaction between microbes and their host's immune system, while researchers at ULiège specialise in the development of computer algorithms for precision medicine, or tailor-made medical treatment. Under the impulse of Prof Dr. Dr. Kristel Van Steen, an interest group within Liege was identified to facilitate joint work with our international collaborators or to be increase competitiveness.