Research Group Prize 2023 announcement
We are delighted to announce the winner and runners up of the Research Group Prize 2023.
Overall, the reviewers felt that the applicants were an inspirational group of researchers, with representation from early through to senior career stages. The work carried out by the applicants in developing fundamental knowledge, methods, tools and interventions to improve gut health is among the very best in this quickly developing and globally relevant field.
The applicant field was highly competitive but there were three teams in particular whose work and approach to collaborative team science stood out for reasons outlined below. The scoring was incredibly close, but the reviewers all independently ranked the top three research teams as follows.
Jeffrey I. Gordon lab (and their network of collaborators)
Lab of Jeffrey I. Gordon, Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, USA
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey I. Gordon
In first place, was the team of Professor Jeffrey I. Gordon and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, USA. Over more than 25 years the Gordon laboratory has contributed foundational insights into the mechanisms underlying the assembly, functions, and physiological effects of gut microbial communities, with a particular focus on nutrition. The knowledge, insights and approaches that they have developed have been built upon by countless other researchers and have been an major contributor to the expansion of the microbiome field over the past two decades. In particular, the reviewers noted the dedication to fostering the development of a diverse cohort of PhD students, post-docs and staff scientists within the Gordon laboratory, with most going on to hold senior positions in academia, industry or public health. The reviewers also highlighted the partnerships between the Gordon lab and long-standing collaborators in Bangladesh and other countries that have provided fundamental knowledge on the role of gut microbial communities in children with moderate or severe acute malnutrition. These collaborations have informed the development of microbiota-directed complementary food formulations that demonstrate substantial potential for treating malnutrition in undernourished children/infants worldwide.
Joint 2nd place
Wendy Russell lab (and their network of collaborators)
Gut Microbiology Group, The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK
Principal Investigator: Wendy Russell
In joint second place was Professor Wendy Russell and her colleagues in the Gut Microbiology Group (GMG) at The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Building on a history of work on gut anaerobic fermentation and nutrition, over the last 25 years researchers in the GMG have contributed many foundational insights into the role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health, moving beyond correlative analyses to investigate the mechanistic basis by which the dietary intake and the gut microbiome interact to influence host health. This work has resulted in the isolation and characterization of many new strains and species from the gut microbiome, and determination of the pathways and mechanisms by which these bacteria metabolise dietary components contributing to nutrition and other aspects of host health. This knowledge has been vital for many other researchers seeking to understand and exploit the metabolic potential of the gut microbiome in their own work. In particular, the reviewers noted commitment of the research leads (Professor Wendy Russell, Dr Sylvia Duncan, Prof. Harry Flint (ret.), Dr Petra Louis, Dr Karen Scott and Dr Alan Walker) to fostering a strong and collaborative research culture that has enabled the GMG to consistently deliver impactful science over the last 25 years. The reviewers also noted the GMGs strong collaborative network that has provided training and resources to help build the capacity for independent gut microbiome and nutrition research in many low- and middle-income countries.
Joint 2nd place
Nicola Segata lab (and their network of collaborators)
Computational Metagenomics Lab, Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Italy
Principal Investigator: Nicola Segata
Also in joint second place was Professor Nicola Segata and his lab at the University of Trento, Italy. Since its establishment in 2013, the Segata lab have combined the development of advanced computational methods for analysing gut metagenomic data with the creation of large-scale curated public datasets, both of which have been widely used by the field. The Segata lab has also focused on the integration of machine learning approaches to interrogating dynamic patterns in the gut microbiome and using metagenomics to inform the identification and cultivation of previously uncharacterized gut microbiome constituents. In addition to the widely adopted computational tools and fundamental knowledge generated by the Segata lab, the reviewers also noted the positive culture for team member career development and the collaborative focus of their work, through partnerships with a diverse array of researchers and low-and middle-income countries. In addition, the reviewers recognised the entrepreneurial spirit of this research team, having created a venue for sharing the latest microbiome research through a monthly online forum, through spinning out their own microbiome-focussed company, and collaborating with multiple other companies in the microbiome space.
Thank you to all of the research groups that submitted an application.
The quality of applications was extremely high.