Dr. Tomas de Wouters covered #GMFH2014 the Gut Microbiota for Health Summit which took place from March 8th to March 9th, 2014 in Miami. We have asked him his feedback on the event. You can follow Tomas here on GMFHx.com and on Twitter @tdewouters.


Can you introduce yourself, your work and interest in the gut microbiota?

Photo Tomas de WoutersTomas: Initially trained as a Food Engineer at the ETH Zurich, I started to be interested in the microbiota through my Master Thesis. We studied bacteriocin production of gram negative bacteria and its possible applications to protect from intestinal infections by gram negative pathogens. Once I decided to pursue my work on the intestinal microbiota I was lucky to carry out my PhD studies in Joël Doré’s group at INRA in Jouy-en-Josas, where I contributed to the research of Hervé Blottière on the study of the intestinal microbiota-host interaction using functional metagenomic screenings. A method now routinely used by MetaGenopolis. The work on the regulation of specific genes by short chain fatty acids and other compounds of the microbiota convinced me that host-microbiota interaction is an interplay of a multitude of microbial and metabolic factors, which brought me to Christophe Lacroix’s laboratory where I hope to use his intestinal fermentation system in combination with cellular models to advance understanding of the host-microbiota interaction in the human gut.


What are the main contributions that #GFMH2014 brought to the gut microbiota field?

Tomas: GFMH2014 was an interesting experience for me, since it addressed medical doctors. Microbiota research has been very explorative to date, and its application very limited to gastro-enterologists. On the question to the audience, how many of the practicing medical doctors prescribed pro- or prebiotics, the positive responses were surprisingly low. The re-emergence of FMT as a successful microbiota therapy seems to have attracted the MD’s attention to the microbial part of the intestine. Meetings like GFMH2014 are important to connect the physicians with the evolving knowledge on the field of the intestinal microbiota. Only through a mutual interaction of science and medical practice the evolving understanding of the microbiota and its functions can lead to improve human health.


How could you summarize the key elements of the “Practical Issues Surrounding Fecal Microbiota Transplant” workshop you participated in?

TomasI participated in the workshop on Regulatory and “Practical Issues Surrounding Fecal Microbiota Transplant” where I was very happy to assist to a hands-on discussion on FMT. The moderators Gail Hecht, Stacy Kahn and Colleen Kelly made it clear that physicians are very much addressed with demands for FMT for treatment of different, microbiota-related diseases. The success of C. difficile treatment seems to have opened Pandora’s Box, leaving much space for speculation. Therefore, the moderators encouraged the discussion on standardization of procedures and training of medical personal. But also the need for regulation for the protection of the patients and the physicians since promising as it is the application of FMT is very much experimental still.

On this page, we provide you with a free replay of the plenary sessions and workshops’ wrap-ups of #GMFH2014!