The Flemish Gut Flora project

​Only about 10% of the cells in our body are human – the vast majority are microbes. Together, we make up what we really are: a symbiotic collaboration between microbes and host, both dependent on each other for our respective health and survival. In the intestinal tract, the gut flora plays a crucial role in food digestion, immunity and defense against pathogens. Disturbances of the gut flora have been linked to various pathologies, ranging from inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes, obesity and atherosclerosis to cancer and even autism.

Our lab studies these bacteria on and in our body using high-throughput genome analysis techniques – from a tiny stool sample we can learn what bacteria live in your gut, what they do, and what they could mean for our health. We’ve discovered quite a bit already (e.g. Each human has one of only three gut ecosystems, TedX Brussels), but we would like to take this even further.

We have recently started one of the largest studies world-wide on the human gut flora, in which we are analyzing and comparing the microbial ‘friends’ of more than 5000 individuals in a geographically confined region (Flanders, Belgium). Our goal is to investigate what microbes influence our health and what factors influence the health and stability of our flora (food, infections etc).

Currently, the study is confined to Belgian participants. But if you’re living abroad and interested to join when we go international, please send your contact details to gutflora*Replace*With*At*Sign*vib.be.