Genomics and Metagenomics in Inflammatory Disorders

The projects in the genomics and metagenomics group aim to characterize and understand how alterations in the human genome and the gut microbial flora influence disease. We do this by applying modern genotyping and sequencing technologies, as well as metabolomics.

The main current interest of the group is the role of the gut microbiota in multiple inflammatory disease phenotypes, including primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and intestinal diseases, immunodeficiencies (HIV and common variable immunodeficiency) as well as cardiovascular diseases. After an initial phase of defining the gut microbiota in inflammatory diseases, the main focus is now directed towards "Clinical microbiota medicine", that is, studies of the gut microbial content and function gut in human disease – and how the new knowledge can be applied clinically.

Locally, the group is integrated with the clinical microbiology and microbiota medicine group (leader Marius Trøseid) and has extensive collaborations ongoing within the Research Institute of Internal Medicine and with the clinical research groups of the hospital. A strong link to the experimental groups is also important, providing opportunities to understand disease mechanisms in more detail. A regional research network for clinical microbiota science (ReMicS) was finally funded late 2018, providing financial support to a collaborative research network that has been active the last five years. In addition, the group hosted the fifth national conference on gut microbiota in November 2018 with about 110 participants and more than 20 abstracts submitted.

A major achievement in 2018 was the ERC Starting Grant awarded to group leader Hov and the project StopAutoimmunity (Recurrent disease in the liver transplant: window to identify and stop gut signals driving autoimmunity). Total funding is 1.5 million euros over 5 years, securing the major research axis on the gut microbial influence on PSC and post-transplant PSC for years to come.

From left: Mikal J. Hole, Sajan Raju, Liv Wenche Thorbjørnsen, Johannes R. Hov, Kristian Holm, Peder R. Braadland, Petra Hradicka, Hanna Guldsten, Maria G. Maseng, Beate Vestad, Simen Hyll Hansen, Lise Katrine Engesæter, Brian K Chung