Infection Biology

Microbial communities consisting of bacteria, fungi and viruses colonize all surfaces of the human body. They are referred to in their entirety as the microbiome. The composition of the microbiome varies between individuals and also within an individual in the course of life. Important influencing factors at the beginning of life are the mode of birth and diet, later the intake of antibiotics and medication as well as long-term diets, the state of health, but also sport and stress play a role. In recent years, a large number of studies have begun to investigate the extent to which the microbiome and its changes actively contribute to our health and the development of diseases. For various diseases, it has been shown in animal models and clinical studies that certain changes in the microbiome influence either the development or the course of e.g. chronic inflammatory bowel diseases or susceptibility to infections. This has led to the development of novel microbiome-based therapies that are currently being investigated in animal models and clinical studies.

Prof. Strowig's department uses interdisciplinary approaches from microbiological, immunological and bioinformatic methods to gain a molecular understanding of the complex interactions between the intestinal microbiome and the host. The knowledge that can be gained from this forms an important cornerstone for the development of new individual prevention and therapy approaches. The close cooperation between the MHH and HZI at the CiiM will enable research results from basic research to be transferred more directly into practice in the future. One example is the successful establishment of a microbiome analysis platform, which is essential for researching the influence of the host's microbiome on its susceptibility to infections and has already been used for various patient cohorts (RESIST-SeniorIndividuals, LöwenKIDS). Another example is the identification of specific microbiome components that can be used in preclinical models to prevent colonization with disease-promoting bacteria.

Prof Dr Till Strowig


Prof Dr Till Strowig
Head of Department

Research Focus

Despite great progress and important results in microbiome research in recent years, the translation of these findings into novel drugs is still in the early stages, as it is often unknown which members of the microbiome and which specific mechanisms are responsible for the health-promoting and health-damaging effects. Therefore, in recent years we have developed methods and models that allow us to analyze the complex interplay between pathogens, the microbiome and the host in order to gain new insights into how the manipulation of microbial communities can be used therapeutically. We have focused on two areas in particular: firstly, the role of widespread but as yet uncharacterized members of the gut microbiome in the microbial ecosystem and secondly, harnessing the potential of components of the microbiome to promote the exclusion of multidrug-resistant enterobacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli from the gut. By combining basic and translational research, we aim to fully exploit the potential of the microbiome as a biomarker and therapeutic target.