Born in a microbial cloud: gatekeepers of a healthy life. Prof Debby Bogaert
From Peter Crooks
Born in a microbial cloud: gatekeepers of a healthy life.
Prof Debby Bogaert
Part of the College's inaugural lecture series.
Recorded 12 November 2018.
It was only 350 years ago that the Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek discovered the existence of living ’animalcules’ (Latin for tiny animals), nowadays called microbes. 200 years later scientists proved that specific microbeswere the cause of common diseases like cholera and tuberculosis.
This knowledge changed modern society dramatically, and with the discovery of the antibiotic penicillin by the Scottish scientist Alexander Flemming, the battle against infectious diseases went rapidly uphill. As a result, however, the common belief emerged that microbes in general are bad for human health, and should all be avoided or eliminated.
Only recently, new technology arrived allowing the characterization of all microbial life surrounding and inhabiting us. This marked the start of a new field of science, called microbiome research.
The complete outer and inner surface of the human body is colonized by a highly diverse and complex community of microbes that plays a crucial role in human health. Since every infant is born ‘sterile’, their personal microbiome only starts to assemble during birth, and further develops with every touch, every breath and every feed it takes.
During her lecture, Professor Bogaert, Chair of Paediatric Medicine, will provide new insights regarding how the environment, including exposure to antibiotics, shapes a newborn’s microbiome. Furthermore, she will illustrate the importance of a healthy microbiome, especially regarding respiratory health throughout life.