Karen Scott is a Senior Research Fellow at the Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, and has worked in the Microbial Ecology Group in the Gut Health Division since completing her PhD. She is responsible for leading a research team investigating the (molecular) mechanisms by which key members of the gut microbiota utilise specific dietary components including prebiotics and fibre. The fermentation products of these gut bacteria contribute to gut health, and differential gene expression means that they are produced in different ratios on different substrates. She is also interested in the development of the microbiota from birth, and the sequential colonisation of the gut. Longitudinal studies illustrate the importance of diet in modulating both the composition and activity of the microbiota in infants. In vitro bacterial growth studies (in pure culture, mixed culture and fermentor systems) illustrate niche-specific substrate utilisation profiles of bacteria, and are used to support data from human dietary intervention studies on the composition and activity of the bacterial ecosystem in vivo.

A parallel interest involves the carriage, evolution and dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes between bacteria, resident in the human gut, or transiently passing through from food or environmental samples. The discovery of new resistance genes on novel conjugative transposons, transferable to unrelated gut bacteria, offers some insights into the potential mechanisms of spread of these genes.

Ami Bhatt has chosen to dedicate her research program to inspecting, characterizing and dissecting the microbe-human interface. Nowhere is the interaction between hosts and microbes more potentially impactful than in immunocompromised hosts and global settings where infectious and environmental exposures result in drastic and sometimes fatal health consequences.

Ami's group identifies problems and questions that arise in the course of routine clinical care. Often in collaboration with investigators at Stanford and beyond, the group applies modern genetic, molecular and computational techniques to seek answers to these questions, better understand host-microbe interactions and decipher how perturbation of these interactions may result in human disease phenotypes.

Professor Elinav’s lab focuses on deciphering the molecular basis of host-microbiome interactions and their effects on health and disease, with a goal of personalizing medicine and nutrition. Dr. Elinav completed his medical doctor’s (MD) degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center summa cum laude, followed by a clinical internship, residency in internal medicine, and a physician-scientist position at the Tel Aviv Medical Center Gastroenterology institute. He received a PhD in immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Elinav has published more than 140 publications in leading peer-reviewed journals, including major recent discoveries related to the effects of host genetics, innate immune function and environmental factors, such as dietary composition and timing, on the intestinal microbiome and its propensity to drive multi-factorial disease. His honors include multiple awards for academic excellence including the Claire and Emmanuel G. Rosenblatt award from the American Physicians for Medicine (2011), the Alon Foundation award (2012), the Rappaport prize for biomedical research (2015) the Levinson award for basic science research (2016), and is an elected member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). Since 2016 he is a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR), and since 2017 he’s an international scholar at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Conflicts of interest: Professor Elinav is a paid consultant to DayTwo (a spin off company focused on personalized nutrition) and BiomX (a spinoff company focused on development of phage therapy for microbiome pathobionts).

Sarah Lebeer is a research professor at the Department of Bioscience Engineering of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She has studied bioscience engineering, with a specialisation in cell and gene biotechnology and food & health and obtained her Master’s degree at KU Leuven (Belgium) in 2004. In 2008, she obtained a PhD degree in Bioscience Engineering with a topic on probiotics and inflammatory bowel diseases (KU Leuven). After a postdoc on the interaction between lactobacilli, viruses and mucosal immunology, Sarah was offered a tenure track position in applied microbiology and biotechnology at the Department of Bioscience Engineering of the University of Antwerp in Nov 2011.

In 2020, Sarah obtained an ERC StG Grant (Lacto-Be) that enables her to gain in-depth knowledge of the evolutionary history and ecology of lactobacilli. Within this ERC project, Sarah has launched the Isala citizen-science project to gain new insights in the ecology and role of vaginal lactobacilli for women’s health, but also to actively involve women to contribute with ideas on how to improve vaginal health and break some taboos together. This project has won the communication award from the Young Academy and Royal Academy of Science KVAB in 2021.

Kiyoshi Takeda graduated from Osaka University School of Medicine in 1992 and conducted his PhD work at the Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University under the supervision of Prof. Shizuo Akira. He was an assistant professor in Hyogo College of Medicine, and Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, where he worked on the mechanisms for Toll-like receptor-dependent pathogen recognition. In 2003, he became a professor at Medical Institute of Bioregulation, Kyushu University, and then moved to Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University in 2007. He is also a vice director and professor at WPI Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University.

His present research activity is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases, particularly the analysis on how intestinal homeostasis is maintained by mucosal innate immune cells and epithelial cells. He is also analyzing how microbiota resides in the intestine without evoking inflammatory responses and influences the host health.

Liping Zhao is currently the Eveleigh-Fenton Chair of Applied Microbiology at Rutgers University and Distinguished Professor of Microbiology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is a senior editor of the ISME Journal and associate editor of the journal Microbiome. He is a fellow of American Academy of Microbiology. He is a senior fellow of Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). He serves on Scientific Advisory Board for Center for Microbiome Research and Education of American Gastroenterology Association (AGA).

His team has pioneered the approach of applying metagenomics-metabolomics integrated tools and dietary intervention for systems understanding and predictive manipulation of gut microbiota to improve human metabolic health. Following the logic of Koch’s postulates, Liping has found that an endotoxin-producing opportunistic pathogen isolated from an obese human gut can induce obesity in germfree mice. Their clinical trials published in Science and EBioMedicine showed that dietary modulation of gut microbiota can significantly alleviate metabolic diseases including a genetic form of obesity in children and type 2 diabetes in adults. The Science magazine featured a story on how he combines traditional Chinese medicine and gut microbiota study to understand and fight obesity (Science 336: 1248).