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03 February 2023

£2million awarded to study bacterial methylation of the human gut microbiome

A new project to investigate the bacterial methylation of the human gut microbiota has received £2million in funding by the European Research Council.

lactic acid bacteria in the gut

Obesity is a global health challenge for which diet is a major risk factor. Diet influences the community of microbes in the human gut, or the gut microbiota. Understanding the links between diet, gut microbiota, and metabolic health is crucial to tackle the obesity crisis, but our knowledge of the gut bacterial processes that mediate diet effects on human health remains limited.

Dr Jordana Bell, who leads the epigenomics research group in the School of Life Course & Population Sciences, has received funding over five years.

Her project titled ‘Bacterial methylation of the human gut microbiome in response to diet for improvement of cardio-metabolic health’ proposes that diet induces epigenetic changes in our gut bacteria which can switch on and off bacterial genes. These changes have functional consequences on the intestinal environment, its microbial community, and human health. The project will characterise the bacterial epigenome of the human gut microbiota as a novel tool to identify biological pathways that mediate diet effects on human health.

I am delighted with the ERC outcome. The project has exciting potential to uncover novel mechanisms of bacterial gene function regulation across the entire microbiota, rather than in individual bacterial isolates as has been studied to date. The new insights and tools can help to inform strategies for improvement of human health.

Dr Jordana Bell, Reader in Epigenomics

The work will build new collaborations and strengthen existing links between international researchers across Europe and researchers across King’s College London Departments of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology, Nutritional Sciences, and Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions.

The grant is a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, which is part of the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme. The funding is worth in total €657 million and 321 researchers have been awarded, including Dr Katie Meehan from the School of Global Affairs and Professor Ben Geiger from the Centre for Society & Mental Health  . It will help excellent scientists, who have 7 to 12 years’ experience after their PhDs, to pursue their most promising ideas.


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Jordana  Bell

Reader in Epigenomics