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In search of novel insights

© Royaltystockphoto / iStock /Getty Images; RKaulitzki / Getty Images

At the end of 2019, the Global Grants for Gut Health (GGGH) panel convened for only the second time to find the best proposals among the 132 project descriptions submitted. To use some terms appropriate for the field, both the load and the diversity of submitted applications were indeed large. This year, our focus was on seeking out bold and original proposals that will make important contributions to uncovering and understanding the mechanisms through which the microbiota exert an influence on human health.

Tine Rask Licht, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food), Denmark. Panel Chair

With the GGGH, we hope to add to the generation of novel insights. As an adjective, novel means more than merely ‘new’. Novelty implies originality, freshness, uniqueness. We were pleased that many of the applications contained highly novel aspects, and the three grantees were selected from a very competitive line-up. We are very happy to be able to congratulate the recipients of this year’s GGGH:

Reinhard Hinterleitner, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, United States, will use his grant to unravel the role of gut commensal protists in immune-mediated food sensitivity. His project tackles a huge need and deals with a poorly understood aspect of host-microbiome interaction. The panel found the proposal to be original and timely, highly mechanistic, and to have a high chance of bringing insightful outcomes. We are very excited to see the results.

Jakob Begun, senior lecturer and IBD group leader at the University of Queensland, Australia, sets out to use a very logical, stepwise approach to identify bioactive strains within the gut microbiota, and focus on their mechanisms of signalling to the host. The aim is to harness gut bioactives that suppress inflammation in IBD. The panel found the proposal to be original and clinically relevant, and to encompass the search for next-generation probiotics i.e. live strains from humans selected primarily for their bioactive potential.

Eran Segal, professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, is a highly renowned player in the field of host-microbe interactions. His project involves the development of a novel technique to screen thousands of microbial antigens for binding to human antibodies in order to identify critical reactions that may be applied for prevention or mitigation of disease. This original and novel project has a clear mechanistic aspect, and builds on a multitude of existing data. The panel found that the downstream impact of this project might be huge, particularly when the results are made available to the scientific community.

The granted proposals reflect the GGGH’s support of the global scientific community, since the three projects will be carried out on three continents. We very much look forward to seeing what these novel and interesting approaches will lead to, and how they might advance worldwide efforts to solve some of the many riddles related to the human microbiome.Ending on this happy note, I warmly thank my fellow panelists; Eran Elinav, Paul W. O’Toole, Karen P. Scott, Kiyoshi Takeda and Liping Zhao for all their work and for making their excellent expertise available during the selection process.

Meet the panel

From left to right: Tine Rask Licht, Panel Chair, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food), Denmark. Eran Elinav, Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Paul W. O'Toole, School of Microbiology and APC Microbiome Ireland, University of Cork College, Ireland.

Karen P. Scott, Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, Kiyoshi Takeda, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan, Liping Zhao, Chair of Applied Microbiology at Rutgers University, United States; Distinguished Professor of Microbiology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China


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