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More than 200 researchers gathered in central Oxford earlier this year to learn about the microbes that inhabit our bodies and their impact on our health.

The Symposium was organised by the Kennedy Institute to celebrate the opening of its new world-class facility for microbiome research.

Profs Fiona Powrie and Michael Dustin opened the meeting with an introduction to microbiome research in Oxford. They described how the new facility at the Kennedy Institute creates unique opportunities for microbiome research. They also set out their vision for the Institute as a hub to connect multidisciplinary microbiome research across the University. 

Among those speaking was Prof Cynthia Sears from John Hopkins Medicine, USA. She talked about certain types of bacteria that attach to the lining of the gut in patients genetically predisposed to developing colon cancer. Her research shows these bacteria secrete molecules that may cause tumours to form.

This was followed by a series of talks from other national and international speakers. Topics varied from how the microbiome links to obesity and arthritis to an exploration of the natural microbiome in public spaces. 

Director of the Kennedy Institute, Prof Fiona Powrie said: “We are only just beginning to uncover the relationships between the microbiome and human disease. The fascinating work presented at this Symposium highlights how new technologies are being used to understand precisely how the microbiome influences its host. This is essential if we are to harness the potential of the microbiome to treat human disease”

The meeting organisers would like to thank sponsors: Biolegend, Bio-Techne, Cambridge Bioscience, Thermo Fisher Scientific, VWR.