Located within the Kennedy Institute, the Oxford Centre for Microbiome Studies (OCMS) seeks to accelerate research to unravel how microbes underpin health and disease, from ageing and mental health to inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and cancer.
Almost every environment on Earth is inhabited by a complex community of microbes – the microbiota - that plays an essential role in maintaining homeostatic ecosystem functions. For example, mammalian intestinal microbial communities play a fundamental role in host metabolism and training of the immune system. The importance of mutually beneficial host-microbiota interactions is highlighted by recent studies linking imbalances in the microbiota to a diverse set of chronic diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), cancer, obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, allergy, and neurological disorders. However, the precise mechanisms that causally link members of the microbiota to disease processes are still largely unknown.
To address this knowledge gap and improve accessibility of microbiome science to the community, we have established the Oxford Centre for Microbiome Studies (OCMS) - providing a unified platform for both correlative and functional analyses of microbial communities. The OCMS combines state-of-the-art facilities with expertise across diverse disciplines including computational biology, gnotobiotics, immunology and advanced microbial cultivation to provide an experimental platform to advance analyses beyond correlation.
The OCMS has been established by a team of 16 scientists spanning 8 University of Oxford departments (NDORMS, NDM, RDM, Psychiatry, Zoology, School of Geography and the Environment, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oncology), creating a community of interdisciplinary researchers to galvanise and innovate research in this area. Through the provision of resources to the community in both a service and collaborative capacity, the OCMS establishes a hub for microbiome science to generate deeper insights into the role of microbes across diverse environments and disease settings.
Work in the Centre covers a range of scales from cohort-based studies to identify changes in the microbiome in arthritis patients to the identification of bacterial products that have immune-regulatory properties