2016 Press Releases

International prize for microbiome research

13 May 2016
Pictured is Dr Roman Stilling, APC Microbiome Institute & Dept of Anatomy & Neuroscience, University College Cork Image: Clare Keogh

An article entitled “Bacteria - the Emotions Factory” describing research at the APC Microbiome Institute in University College Cork has won a media prize for a German health journalist.

In the article, Simone Einzmann explores the work of Dr Roman Stilling, a post-doctoral researcher with Professors John Cryan and Ted Dinan, and his colleagues at the APC Microbiome Institute and Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience in the University.  Roman, who received an Irish Research Council Fellowship to support his work, explains the effect of gut bacteria on the brain,  "For a healthy brain, the bacteria in our intestines are incredibly important. Until recently, few researchers would dare say that our gut bacteria could control our emotions and behaviour - but this has changed dramatically."

Dr Stilling's work focusses on the mechanisms that enable microbes to induce changes in social behaviour. He looks at the switching on and off of genes in response to social cues, and has found that in mice growing up in the absence of bacteria this regulation goes astray, resulting in impaired sociability. It is hoped that this work will lead to the development of new treatments for neurological and mental illnesses.

Also featuring in the article is the research of Dr Andrew P Allen, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr Gerard Clarke, Professors John Cryan and Ted Dinan in the Science Foundation Ireland-funded APC Microbiome Institute.  Andrew’s work examines the impact of probiotic supplementation on stress and cognitive performance. He is also interested in changes in the microbiota under conditions of chronic stress, with a particular focus on informal caregivers for family members with dementia.

FOCUS magazine editor Simone Einzmann received the German Society for Probiotic Medicine DePROM Media Prize of €5,000 for the article at a prize-giving ceremony in Berlin. The highly regarded bi-monthly FOCUS Gesundheit (Health) publication is a speciality spin-out of FOCUS magazine, Germany's third-largest weekly news magazine.

"The contribution of Simone Einzmann inspired us with a scientifically sound and clear representation on the impact of the micro-flora in our intestines on our thinking and emotions," explained Prof Stefan Schreiber a renowned gastroenterologist, Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, and President of the German Society of Probiotic Medicine DePROM. http://www.bskom.de/deprom-medienpreis-erstmals-verliehen/


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