Michael Muller – Microbiome

Michael Muller – Microbiome

Quadram Institute, Norwich

What do you do?

I focus on food’s interaction with microbes and host in humans, mostly to do with the gut and intestine. This covers things like what happens in the body when we eat or don’t eat or why it is true that a calorie is not a calorie and the type of calorie is important. The gut is a very important organ in the body, it decides what should go in or stay out. Microbes help the gut and interact with food components. The gut should be a healthy ecosystem but if you deplete it by eating highly processed foods, this can contribute to diseases. I hope the impact of my research can convince producers and the industry to reformulate food, to make less healthy convenient foods healthier. It’s not easy to give the information I discover to the consumer, I’m on twitter to do micro-communication. Unfortunately the reality is that many people buy highly processed convenience foods, with a stable taste that lasts, obviously this is what the consumer wants and food safety is very important, but this has nothing to do with healthy food and is definitely not optimal for health. If we can prevent disease early on by changing our diets, this would greatly ease pressure on the NHS. The focus is currently on treatment not prevention meaning we have to intervene when it’s too late and this could mean a serious operation like a liver transplant. It’s about communicating messages in the right way to people to have the biggest impact, we do have the ability to give a solution for a future where chronic illness at the end of life is lessened.

What can you see?

I’m fortunate enough to have a lovely green view of the Colney lane playing fields that the UEA sports teams play on. Great to brighten up dull days in the lab.

When I’m not doing science I…

I commute every weekend to my family in Netherlands, I’m very used to it now. I try to go to the gym daily. I would enjoy looking round the city centre, but I don’t have a car here so I’m restricted to what I can do on the bike.