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Tom Gilbert

Director of the DNRF Center for EvolutionaryHologenomics, University of Copenhagen

Presentation title: Applied hologenomics - should microbiome treatments be personalised?

Tom Gilbert is Director of the DNRF Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics at the University of Copenhagen. Trained as an evolutionary biologist, for much of his career his research focussed on the genomics of adaptation across a wide range of biological systems. Recently however he and his team have moved their focus to hologenomics, that is the study of larger organisms and their associated microbial partners as single units. In particular their interest lies in exploring the concept that an animal or plant's microbiome is a phenotype that is ultimately conditioned by the host’s genetic variation. Specifically their research focuses on the extent that this is so, the mechanisms that might drive it, and the consequences that arise if this is the case - in both the basic evolutionary biology, but also applied animal and crop production contexts. 


We have entered the era of personalised medicine, in which it is becoming increasingly accepted that the efficacy of conventional medical treatments given to humans or animals can be improved by taking into account the patient’s genetic variation. We have also entered an era in which there is an ever growing interest in how microbiome treatments can be used to benefit human and animal health (and for the latter other production related parameters). I argue that ultimately we need to consider whether personalising microbiome treatment may hold benefits similar to what are being seen in personalised medicine.