Your first discovery in the gut-brain axis?
The first time we proved that gut bacteria affect brain function was so exciting! We observed this in H. pylori infected mice: the bacterial infection did not just cause changes in the function of the stomach, it also affected certain parts of the brain that control food intake, altering the mouse eating habits. This provided us with concrete evidence of perturbed communication between the gut and the brain. And further evidence came from the observation that administering antibiotics to healthy mice could change the mouse behavior and brain chemistry.
The first time
you felt frustrated?
Frustration is an integral part of science and you
feel frustrated very often! Lots of experiments
don’t work out but one cannot get discouraged,
you have to try again and again, think and come
up with new solutions. And when you try for the
tenth time, it finally works...
The level of frustration may be in general higher
in the area of IBS. It is a complex disorder, with
multiple triggers and underlying mechanisms
which however clinically manifest similarly This
is in part due to the fact that there are a limited
number of ways in which our body or gut can let
us know something is wrong broadly speaking by
pain diarrhea and constipation
Our job is to decipher and identify the individual
mechanisms find the best biomarkers Its a
difficult and slow task but I suppose thats why
were so happy when something finally works
when you hit on at least one piece of the jigsaw
and you actually know where it goes
The first time
you felt proud?
For all researchers, the biggest source
of pride are our published articles, well-
delivered conference lectures, awarded
grants - those are truly rewarding moments.
And the first “proud” moment was when my
very first paper was published
A source of hope?
We have made a significant progress in the area of IBS over the past decades, both in research and treatments. We now have some very effective medications, although they do not work in all patients. And this is due to the fact that there are multiple pathways which trigger symptoms of IBS, and therefore a one-size-fits-all approach will not likely be successful. We need to learn how to identify the subgroups of patients with different disease mechanisms, discover new biomarkers, and treat not only the symptoms, but the underlying cause. In the last decades, we have gained significant knowledge about the microbiome, diet and their interactions, which in my opinion are the key drivers of symptom in patients with IBS. And I am convinced that future research in this area will provide the definite answers to our current problems.