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Mind your gut heroes: Microbiota in health and disease

English title Mind your gut heroes: Microbiota in health and disease
Applicant Yilmaz Bahtiyar
Number 186512
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Department for BioMedical Research Inselspital Bern Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Experimental Microbiology
Start/End 01.09.2019 - 30.04.2021
Approved amount 50'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Experimental Microbiology
Medical Microbiology

Keywords (6)

Darmflora; chronisch-entzündliche Darmerkrankungen; Mikrobiologie; Antibiotika; Hands-on science; Next-Generation Sequencing

Lay Summary (German)

Helden des Darms: Das Mikrobiom des Menschen in Gesundheit und in KrankheitDer Einfluss von Darm-Mikrobien auf die Gesundheit stellt einen der aufregendsten Fortschritte der Biomedizin der letzten Jahre dar. Die hohe Komplexität des «vergessenen Organs» führt allerdings oft zu Verwirrung in der Öffentlichkeit. Dieses Projekt zielt darauf, langanhaltendes und präzises Wissen an die Allgemeinheit zu bringen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele des Forschungsprojekts

Eine aktuelle wissenschaftliche Publikation befasst sich mit dem Einfluss von Störungen des mikrobiellen Netzwerks auf die Gesundheit bei Patienten mit chronisch-entzündlichen Darmerkrankungen. Dafür haben Gastroenterologen aus der ganzen Schweiz Proben gesammelt. Wir beabsichtigen, die Öffentlichkeit über die Wichtigkeit von ganzen bakteriellen Gemeinschaften zu informieren, anstatt sich auf einzelne Bakterienstämme zu konzentrieren. Ausserdem wollen wir alle involvierten Parteien (Wissenschaftler, Ärzte und Patienten) zusammenbringen, um zu zeigen, wie wichtig gemeinschaftliches Arbeiten für erfolgreiche Wissenschaft ist. Dieses Projekt zielt darauf aus, die Öffentlichkeit zu ermutigen, sich aktiv an Forschungsprojekten zu beteiligen. Um dies zu erreichen, soll die Bedeutung von wissenschaftlichem Fortschritt für eine bessere Gesundheit sichtbar gemacht werden. Darüber hinaus beabsichtigen wir, i) der Gesellschaft zu vermitteln, dass ein gesundes Mikrobiom ein gesunder Mensch bedeutet, ii) die Bevölkerung über den Antibiotika Gebrauch zu sensibilisieren und iii) Dankbarkeit all denen zu zeigen, die sich freiwillig für dieses Forschungsprojekt zur Verfügung gestellt haben.


Wissenschaftlicher und sozialer Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Der zunehmende Überschuss an unzuverlässigen Informationsquellen reduziert die Glaubwürdigkeit von wissenschaftlicher Arbeit. Dies verdeutlicht die Notwendigkeit von wissenschaftlicher Erziehung der Allgemeinheit, bei der der direkte Kontakt zwischen Wissenschaftlern und der Öffentlichkeit verstärkt im Zentrum steht und so das gesellschaftliche Vertrauen in die Wissenschaft wieder gestärkt wird. Zusätzlich erhöhen öffentliche Bildungsinitiativen kritisches Denken, was die Grundlage für eine bessere Gesellschaft bildet. Mit diesem Forschungsprojekt nehmen wir diese Herausforderungen in Angriff und widmen uns speziell dem Mikrobiom des Menschen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.07.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Maria de Lurdes Gonçalves Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Christiane Sokollik Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Mind your microbiota, the heroes of the gut EU Research International 2021
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Du bist nicht alleine und wirst es nie sein German-speaking Switzerland 2020
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Tu n'es pas saul(e) et ne le sera jamais Western Switzerland 2020
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) You are not, and will never be alone International German-speaking Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Mind Your Gut Heroes: Microbiota in Health and Disease International 2019

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
148422 Swiss Inflammatory Bowel Disease Cohort Study (SIBDCS) 01.04.2014 Cohort Studies Large


The rising access to unreliable information erodes the value that society gives to facts and cause the degradation of public trust in the integrity and validity of scientific research. This highlights the emerging needs of science education specifically in children more than ever before. Although this is a global problem, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and societies for manipulations. A new system of safeguards is urgently required. This is where the scientific community, the critical player of this matter, should intervene to tackle this issue. The science communication and direct interaction with the public appear as an innovative and urgently needed approach to improve public trust in researchers and recognition of scientific discoveries for progress and health. Additionally, outreach initiatives promote critical thinking that is a requisite to build the foundations for a better society.One of the scientific fields that requires public engagement is gut microbiome related studies. Since the first article that used the word ‘microbiome’ published on the 1st of April 2003 and entitled “Aliens Inside us: A (Mostly Friendly) Bacterial Nation” by James Gorman for The New York Times, public attention toward the gut microbiota studies steadily increased. Over 13.000 publications since 2002 point out the impact of gut microbes in health which is widely perceived as one of the most exciting advancements in biomedicine in recent years. However, the complexity of this ‘long forgotten organ’ sometimes can lead to media confusion that directly influences the public perception on hype and reality. There are undoubtedly clear evidences that media coverage walks far ahead of the scientific outputs and it generally intends to report, too often condensing preliminary, correlative and complex data with sensational headlines. As a result, this creates a false public impression on microbiota research that is different than the present-day reality.In order to achieve long-lasting accurate knowledge in public, we need to engage with parties regardless of their age, social status, profession or gender. Therefore, this outreach initiative aims at breaking the walls between these groups by promoting engagement in science and interaction. In particular, our goal is to build bridges between researchers, medical doctors and patients through the communication of our two recent publications, showing the importance of microbiota in health and disease. We aim to include and get the attention of both children and adults by adapting our communication material to each age group. Hands-on experiments, scientific games and inquiry based-methodologies will help children to get the basic concepts of microbiology and the role of antibiotics in our lives; concept-based flyers and animated videos showing the major findings regarding the microbiota in health and disease will allow to communicate the detailed information of these studies and basics of microbiome studies to adults, including the patients who participated in these studies. Importantly, considering that our main objective is to promote discussion of ideas and interaction between people (researchers, medical doctors, patients, children and adults alike), we will also exhibit art work of children that demonstrate the different aspects of microorganisms’ life, ecology and importance for health. Given the nature of my research - that requires samples of patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) collected by gastroenterologists all around Switzerland - and of the subjects we want to communicate, we think it is a high interest to promote our outreach venture at Inselspital, Bern. This hospital is a public care center along with strong research in medical sciences and a key contributor with breakthrough discoveries that can lead to major health improvement of patients. We do not only expect to reach a broad audience (predicting to reach over 9.000 people), but we also envision that this pioneer project will motivate other Inselspital researchers to organize further outreach initiatives in the future. Importantly, this will also be a great way for us to thank all the IBD patients for their contributions to our study and meanwhile, it will contribute to their understanding of how science can progress in better or more efficient way with direct contribution from public. Therefore, we once again strongly emphasise that this outreach activity will help to build a stronger bridge between different parties (e.g. scientists, medical doctors and public) and will help raise awareness and encourage public dialogue on the critical awareness of microbes and to acknowledge individuals and organisations whose actions benefit and impact on all our lives.