CMFI - Controlling Microbes to Fight Infection

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The researchers of the Cluster of Excellence "Controlling Microbes to Fight Infection" want to develop novel strategies to control infection. Their aim is to develop new targeted drugs that have a positive effect on microbiomes. It is known that useful bacteria can keep their dangerous counterparts in check. In order to understand the underlying mechanisms and make them usable, researchers from molecular, computational and clinical disciplines will work together in this cluster. The cluster's spokesperson is Professor Andreas Peschel, with Professor Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt from the Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine (IMIT) at the University and Professor Ruth Ley, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology acting as deputy spokespersons. The University Hospital of Tuebingen and the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) are also contributing.

 

Andreas Peschel Foto Uni Tuebingen

 

3 questions to Andreas Peschel

Can you explain in three sentences what exactly the Cluster’s research will focus on?

We are bringing two major fields of research together: the microbiome and antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens, most of which come from the microbiome. We want to better understand how the microbiome functions and how the bacteria interact with each other. This is the prerequisite for investigating how the bacteria of the microbiome react to our body and, above all, how they can exclude resistant germs.

What will be the biggest challenge?

We are combining two major challenges in the Life Sciences of our time: research on the microbiome and antibiotic resistance. We are breaking ground, particularly in the field of research on the microbiome. This is a very complex system in which many thousands of factors and bacteria interact. Descriptive microbiome research is already being carried out by many researchers today: this means that they analyze the composition of the microbiome of individual patients. We want to investigate the molecular mechanisms shaping microbiomes experimentally and as a system – this focus on functional microbiome interaction is new and we first have to develop the methods and tools for it. New developments in recent years have made this approach possible: thanks to bioinformatics, for example, we are now able to process and analyze huge amounts of data generated by new high-throughput sequencing techniques. This helps us to systematically search for the needle in the haystack, i.e. the "good" bacteria in the microbiome.

Why are you personally attracted to this project?

I find it particularly exciting that I am able to jointly develop a new interdisciplinary field of research. Here in Tübingen, we have a unique starting position: we have decades of experience in research on microorganisms as well as on antibiotic resistance. Some new appointments, such as that of Ruth Ley to the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology or of early career researcher Lisa Maier, have brought additional outstanding expertise to Tübingen. Interdisciplinary cooperation is already well established, so that we can cover the areas from basic research to application.

 

The full interview is available here (in German only).

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