September is the month for outreach activities all over Europe, and of course Umeå University also has some activities.
This year I was invited to participate in Fika efter en Forskare and discuss with the interested public about gut microbiota, diet and the protective mucus layer.
The cafeteria in “Väven” in downtown Umeå was really full with interested people who had very good, sometimes even challenging questions. Even more, the event was completely held in Swedish, so I could also practise my Swedish language skills.
Further south in Eslöv/ Skåne the Dr. P. Håkanssons Foundation
held a ceremony to award their annual fellowships and I was lucky to receive this award the second time. Again, the event was completely in Swedish and this year I was invited to give a presentation about our research in a popular science event before the ceremony. The famous Medborgarhuset in Eslöv was filled with interested people, but this time they could not ask their questions directly. Instead, journalist and moderator Jesper Aspegren grilled me about how Western diet affects our gut bacteria and whether we can still eat burgers without having a guilty conscience.
I hope the audience enjoyed the discussion as much as I did. Also, I was really impressed by the nice stage they had prepared, I had never given a presentation on such a nice one before!
Mucin Conference in Utrecht
We finally had the chance to travel to an in-person conference again, and even better, it was about mucins! In addition to the really interesting talks and great poster discussions, it was so nice to catch-up with old friends and colleagues and meet new people. Not to forget the great party, of course.
Ribosomes and Antibiotics Conference
After the trip to Tartu University in March, it was again time to visit our MIBEst partner Institute of Technology (TUIT), this time for the conference on Ribosomes and Antibiotics.
Besides learning a lot about translation and antimicrobial activities there was also time for a traditional Estonian smoke sauna, combined with a cold refresher in the nearby pond.
Collaboration with FIMM
Through the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine we have the great chance to collaborate with our other nodes in the Scandinavian Partnership.
So Sandra, Supapit and me took the chance and made our first group trip to FIMM Helsinki to learn about metabolomics.
We learned a lot and already got some promising results from our preliminary analyses. So now we are really excited to dig deeper into the data and continue this new collaboration!
Excellence by Choice
We are delighted to announce that in the recent “Excellence by Choice” Postdoctoral Programme call, one of the successful candidates will join our team in the next months!
With the aim to strengthen world-class research activities in Umeå, Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) and Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC), the two national Centres of Excellence, launched the ‘Excellence by Choice’ Postdoctoral Programme (EC Postdoctoral Programme). The programme is funded by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Kempe Foundation and Umeå University with Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier as patron and mentor of the programme.
Dr. Per Håkanssons Stiftelse and Kempe Stiftelse
We are very thankful to receive again a stipend from the Håkanssons Foundation for one of our research projects on the interaction of diet with the gut microbiota!
As last year, the stipend will be awarded during the “Näringslivsdag” in Eslöv/Sweden during the coming fall, and I am really looking forward to visit Eslöv again.
We are also extremely grateful to the Kempe Foundation which granted us a 2 year post-doctoral stipend to deepen our understanding of gut microbiota and mucus interaction.
The Kempe foundation is a strong supporter of research projects and research infrastructure in Northern Sweden
New Book Out!
I feel very honored to have contributed a chapter on The Gut Microbiota and Host Metabolism to this new educational book on Evolution, Biodiversity and a Reassessment of the Hygiene Hypothesis, edited by Graham Rook and Chris Lowry.
At the beginning I was a bit hesitant whether I will have time to write this chapter, but when looking back now, I am very happy that I invested the time. And first of all, I am really excited to read all the other chapters about how microbes affect our life!
Visit Tartu University
Since 2021 I am the local coordinator of the EU twinning grant MIBEst (Molecular Infection Biology Estonia), a project to strengthen the research capacity on infections at the University of Tartu by creating long-lasting links with MIMS, Umeå, and the Basel Biozentrum in Switzerland.
Now I finally had the chance to visit the Institute of Technology (TUIT) at the University of Tartu for a winter school on “Anti-viral and anti-bacterial immunity, immunotherapy and vaccines”, a lecture course on “Biology of gut and urinary tract infections” and several interesting meetings and visits. And of course, in addition to having many great discussions, visiting Estonias second largest city and its oldest and most renowned university also allowed to see some architectural highlights.
First Lab Retreat!
In December we finally had the chance to do our first lab retreat in Granö, located about 1,5h from Umeå. Besides intense discussions about lab organisation, specific methods and other important issues, we had the pleasure to be joined by two great invited speakers from Gothenburg and Munich to discuss some on-going projects.
Of course, when working with microbes and diet, some applied science needs to be included as well, so we got first-hand instructions how to make the perfect sour-dough bread.
Even though it was not in real live, presenting in a studio for the Chemical Biology Center days (“KBC days”) almost gave the feeling of a real conference again.
The KBC days at UmU are an annual interdisciplinary conference with the aim to foster collaborations between the different departments and research centres at Umeå University as well as from the Forestry Faculty from SLU.
This year, we are extremely proud that our PhD student Sandra won the competition about the best video research pitch presentations! In the “Science Communication: Video Research Pitch” course, PhD students and junior Postdocs learned about presentation skills and how to become more effective in science communication. Sandra successfully used this training when presenting about Microbes, Mucus and Burgers and won the competition.
Big congratulations Sandra!!
Finally a trip again! The first work trip after more than 1,5 years brought me down to Eslöv in Skåne to participate in the the Näringslivsdagar. The occasion was used to award the stipend from the Håkanssons Foundation for one of our research projects on the interaction of diet with the gut microbiota.
We are very happy that Rachel joined us during the middle of the bright Swedish summer as a project assistant!
Despite more complicated formalities with the UK, everything went extremely smooth with Rachels move from Oxford and we are now very glad that she can support the team with her knowledge on microbiome analyses. More infos about Rachels background can be found in our Team section!
Today we had our final student presentation from the four excellent students that joined the lab during the last term, either for project courses or for their Master theses.
Thanks Lotte, Sophia, Lucía and Astrid for your great work in the lab over the last couple of month, and all the best for your next steps!
You will be missed!
Right on time before Midsummer, Supapit joined the group as a post doc, and the team quickly introduced her to the nice spots around Umeå to enjoy the long, bright days.
Supapit, did her PhD at Mahidol University, Thailand and South Dakota State University in the US and studied several aspects of the gut microbiota in chicken. Here in Umeå she will keep working on gut microbiota, but the host organism will be exchanged.
More information about Supapit and the current group can be found in our Team section!
We are very happy that Sandra Holmberg joined the group as the second PhD student! Sandra studied Biomedicine at Umeå University and has already a lot of practical lab experience through several research projects and working in the biotech industry.
Sandra will be working with us as well as with the group of Ulrich von Pawel-Rammingen here at Umeå University, and more information about her and the rest of the current group can be found in our Team section!
Dr. Per Håkanssons Stiftelse
I am very happy to announce that we have been awarded with a stipend from the Håkanssons Foundation for one of our research projects on the interaction of diet with the gut microbiota!
The Dr Per Håkanssons foundation has since 1920 distributed stipends and grants for scientific research in the fields of medical chemistry, physiology and food chemistry.
I am really looking forward to receive the stipend during the “Näringslivsdag” in Eslöv/Sweden during the coming fall.
Nanna Svartz Grant and DBT course
We are happy and grateful to have received financial support from the Professor Nanna Svartz foundation, a foundation that supports research with a focus on internal medicine!
Also, end of January we completed our participation in the Design-Build-Test course, in which we hosted 6 students from the engineering physics and biotechnology programs over 5 months. The creative students worked in an interdisciplinary group to develop novel measuring approaches that might facilitate our lab work in the future. We thank the six students for their great work and a really nice prototype!
PhD course on the microbiome completed!
This week we organised a course on the Microbiome for the National Doctoral Programme in Infection and Antibiotics (NDPIA). While the pandemic made a physical meeting impossible, this first online course gave us instead the chance to offer an incredible line-up of speakers, which included several pioneers in microbiota research.
We were initially a bit sceptical whether we would get sufficient interaction and questions by the participants, but this group really exceeded our expectations so much and we are still overwhelmed by the quality and active participation of the students.
Calls for continuation!
Movie for the Researchers Night!
Today the lab became part of a movie scene that is planned for the upcoming Researcher’s Night (Forskar Fredag) at the Curiosum, Umeå’s new science center for children and adults.
Fabiola and Dhirend are looking into the intestine and see very nice structures of villi covered with mucus, but is this everything? Can they help MIMS-director Oliver Billker to find what he is looking for? You might find out on Forskar Fredag in a few weeks!
Nobel prize to research from MIMS!!
This years Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, for their groundbreaking work on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology.
Emmanuelle Charpentier is a honorary doctor at Umeå University and has been the first group leader at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS). Part of her fundamental discoveries leading to the Nobel Prize were made here in our department, and of course, everybody here at MIMS and Umeå University is very happy and proud, calling for a little party. Emmanuelle joined via Zoom and shared some good memories about her time up here in Umeå.
Mucus defects in genetically obese mice!
In our latest manuscript we show that obesity-associated microbiota contributes to mucus layer defects in genetically obese mice. While it was previously thought that gut microbiota deteriorate the mucus layer only in the absence of dietary fibre, we now describe that genetically obese mice have a similar mucus defect in the large intestine, even when the diet contains a lot of fibre. Find the full story now published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry .
After defeating several obstacles due to the COVID19 pandemic, Sophia Geiger finally joined the lab in September as a rotation student. Sophia studies biochemistry at the University of Tübingen in Germany and will support the team with her biochemical expertise and her background on nutrition. Directly after joining the lab, she was already curious how intestinal mucus looks like under the microscope. Find more information about Sophia and the rest of the current group in our Team section!
Welcome Liv and Elin!
This summer Liv and Elin joined the group as “Forskaraspiranterna“, an undergrad fellowship program from the Medical Faculty. As Forskaraspiranterna Elin and Liv will actively join the group in three consecutive summers and get first hands-on lab experience to complete their own research projects. Learn more about the two Forskaraspiranterna in our Team section!
Does an Apple a Day Also Keep the Microbes Away?
So great to see that Fabiolas Review is now published in Frontiers in Immunology.
In the article we review the interaction between diet, microbiota, and host defense peptides, including antimicrobial peptides, at the intestinal mucosal barrier. We discuss how HDP expression can be modulated by specific microbes and their metabolites as well as by dietary factors, including fibers, lipids, polyphenols and vitamins. Also, we identify several dietary compounds that lead to reduced HDP function, but also factors that stimulate HDP production in the intestine.
NRSCID and a Biotech grant!
We are extremely happy that Fabiola has been selected to join the National Research School In Chronic Inflammatory Diseases for the upcoming years! The NRSCID is funded by the Swedish Council of Research and will provide high quality research training for PhD students in a clinical environment.
And even more good news: We were awarded a Basic Science-Oriented Biotechnology Research Grant from the Medial Faculty of Umeå University! The grant will support our research for the next two years.
I am honoured to be invited to join the Editorial Board of Gastroenterology Report , an international open access journal that covers all areas related to gastrointestinal sciences.
On that note, I am extremely happy to see that my Review on the interaction between gut microbiota and mucus function from February 2019 is still the most read article in that journal.
Beginning of February Paul Tetteh Asare joined the lab as a post-doc. He will work on intestinal mucus function and its relation with the gut microbiota.
Paul obtained a Bachelor in Agriculture in Cape-Coast, Ghana, and a Master in Food Science and Technology from Chonbuk National University in South Korea before doing his PhD in Food Biotechnology at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Now Paul moved up north to join the growing team in Umeå.
Welcome Hanna, Lotte and Dhirend!
Now it’s getting crowded! Mid of January Hanna Lee, Lotte Zandbergen and Dhirendra Singh joined the group. Hanna is a dietitian and a self-proclaimed food connoisseur from UC Davis/USA and will stay in the group as a guest researcher for 10 weeks. Lotte is studying Cardiovascular Research at the VU University in the Netherlands and will perform her Master thesis in the lab.
Dhirend is finishing his PhD on fungal infections at the University of Szeged in Hungary and now joins the lab as a post-doctoral fellow. Here in Umeå all three will focus on the effect of diet and gut microbiota on mucus function. Read more about the “new arrivals” in our Team section.
Mid of October Fabiola Puertolas-Balint joined the lab as a project assistant. She will work on intestinal antimicrobial peptides and their interaction with the gut microbiota.
After finishing her Bachelor in Pharmaceutical sciences in Puebla/Mexico Fabiola did her International Master in Innovative Medince in Groningen/Netherlands and Uppsala/Sweden and now already started her first experiments here in Umeå.
We have been featured in a nice portrait in Västerbottens-Kuriren, Norrlands biggest daily news paper. Really great to see that our research is interesting for the community up here.
If you are interested, you can find the article here (in Swedish).
The setting-up of the lab is still continuing, but we are on a good way. Top candidates for the positions mentioned below have been invited and partly selected, so we are not actively recruiting post-docs and PhD students at the moment. But of course, it might be possible to join the lab with own independent funding.
From spring 2019, the Schroeder lab will be based at The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) within the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, located at Umeå University at the beautiful east coast of Sweden. Our focus will be on the interaction between diet, gut microbiota and the intestinal immune system.
We are currently recruiting postdocs, one PhD student and motivated students. Please check our recruitment ads for details!