Location & dates EMBL Heidelberg, Germany 7 - 8 Dec 2020
Deadlines Registration closed

EMBL Courses and Conferences during the Coronavirus pandemic

With the onsite programme paused, many of our events are now being offered in virtual formats.

Registration is open as usual for many events, with back-up plans in place to move further courses and conferences online as necessary. Registration fees for any events affected by the COVID-19 disruption are fully refundable.

More information for participants of events at EMBL Heidelberg can be found here.


Workshop overview

The human gut microbiome is a complex microbial ecosystem with well-established links to human health and disease. As a “genuine human organ” with many more genes than the rest of our body and far-reaching interactions, from the immune system to the brain, the gut microbiota offers unprecedented opportunities for controlled modulation in personalized health efforts. Such applications heavily rely on our ability to map causal effects, and on discovering the underlying molecular players (genes, proteins, metabolites) and mechanisms.

In the past two decades, data-driven research has revealed a remarkable stability, diversity, genomic richness and individuality for the human gut microbiome. Yet, our current view on its functional capacities and its interplay with the host remains mostly descriptive, often lacking molecular understanding. As the field is now striving for causality and mechanistic insights towards a deeper understanding of the microbiome-human health links, these efforts are hindered by the lack of model gut microorganisms and foundational functional knowledge. Our current knowledge of bacterial gene functions, pathways and cellular architecture stems from very few model bacteria, which fail to capture the phylogenetic and genetic diversity of the gut microbiota. As a consequence, the vast majority of genes in the gut microbiome remain “dark matter” with respect to function, that is of elusive or completely unknown function. 

This workshop aims at fostering discussion and charting a framework on how we can systematically tackle this vast dark genetic matter in the human gut microbiome by selecting and establishing new model microbes. What tools and approaches are needed? What knowledge will propel microbiome research and help to dissect correlative from causal links, reveal underlying molecular mechanisms and ultimately, to progress to health applications? A targeted group of participants has been invited to discuss and plan initiatives that can help creating this foundational knowledge towards transforming the field and providing a roadmap for targeting other microbial ecosystems.

Session Topics

  • Data-driven functional discovery
  • Genetic tools for mapping gene function and interactions
  • Multi-omics for mapping gene function and cellular organization
  • Visualizing functional units
  • Gene function in ecological context (communities, host, phages)
  • Looking outward & forward – links to other microbiomes