Dirk Haller

Unravelling the complexity of the gut microbiota

(Technical University Munich, Germany)

The main research focus of Prof. Haller and his team at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology in Munich (@TUM) is to understand commensal microbe-host interactions in the digestive tract and to explore the question how diet and microbiome interactions influence health and chronic disease risk. The intestinal epithelium acts as a boundary with both metabolic and immunological functions, and identifying the molecular communication between the microbial milieu and the host occupies a central position in Professor Haller’s research activities. His work with newly developed germ-free mouse models and patients with Crohn`s disease, ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer has made significant contributions to the role of commensal bacteria in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation, injury & regeneration and tumour development in the intestine. Prof. Haller established comprehensive research programs at the international (EU), national (DFG Priority Program, SPP 1656) and local level (DFG Collaborative Research Center, CRC 1371) and established the Institute for Food & Health (ZIEL) to implement these research question across scientific disciplines at TUM. Novel infrastructure and technology platforms, including microbiome-related next-generation sequencing (NGS) as well as gnotobiotic mouse housing, contribute to cutting-edge research at the interface of nutrition science and biomedicine. With more than 200 publications and awards from the European Gastroenterology Association and the German Society of Medical Microbiology underlines his international recognition in translational biomedical research.

About the lecture:
Research of the past decade identified a fundamental role of the intestinal microbiome in the regulation of human health and disease risk. Identifying unique configurations of microbial communities and their function which are capable to stratify disease onset and progression is a well-defined need, however the comparison of microbiome signatures across cohorts and disease entities confirmed individually diverse ecosystems and the absence of global disease-specific patterns. Understanding the functional relevance of microbiome alterations in patients or individuals at risk allows a more comprehensive insight to the causal role of microbiome changes in disease development. In this presentation, inflammatory bowel diseases will serve as a show case to illustrate the functional analysis of dysbiosis and the role of dietary intervention in models and patients.