It still feels a bit unreal to write this but here it comes. After almost 6 incredible years at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle I will join the faculty of the Medical University of Graz early 2024 as an Assistant Professor in Computational Microbiome Science.
My lab will be part of The Diagnostic and Research Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Environmental Medicine and will operate within the Austrian Cluster of Excellence “Microbiomes Drive Planetary Health”. I am excited (giddy to be honest) to join the MedUni and the amazing students, faculty and administration there.
I will try my best to have a positive impact on the students, research, and culture at the MedUni and to collaborate with many of you in the future.
In very broad terms my team and I will research the niche dynamics in microbial communities. The trillions of microorganisms living in our gut (as well as the 70 gigatons carbon of microbes on the planet) perform a complex ballet of metabolic interactions between each other and their environment, giving rise to a myriad of biotransformations. We will study the flexibility of microorganisms in adapting their nutrient needs and their interactions with surrounding microbes in varying environments and how this may impact health and disease.
Questions my lab will work on are:
- Can we use genomic information to mechanistically predict metabolite uptake and production in a specific microbiome and environmental context?
- What is the impact of the environments on the microbial niche space and how does the microbiome interact and change the host-derived environment?
- Can niche dynamics predict engraftment and priority effects during the colonization by pathogens or probiotics?
All this while using the huge wealth of resources available that will allows us to leverage a breadth of strategies ranging from metagenomics and metabolomics to culturomics.
I am looking forward to my time back in Europe after a decade-long hiatus and hope to get to know as much of the local research environment as I possibly can soon.