The overarching objective of our research is to understand how a healthy gut is established and maintained throughout life. We want to understand how this healthy state is altered in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. IBD), as well as diseases elsewhere in the body (e.g. ME/CFS) including other organ systems such as the brain, where we are exploring the gut-brain axis and dementia.
We are carrying out fundamental studies to better understand the microbiome by identifying pathways used for crosstalk between microbes and the host, the transport of bacterial products to host cells via vesicles. We aim to use this system to develop and deploy bacteria-generated microvesicles for mucosal drug delivery. We are also, in collaboration with Alastair Watson at the University of East Anglia (UEA), studying interactions between the microbiota and mucosal immune cells to understand how a healthy microbiome is established that can still mount a defence against food-borne pathogens.