WP leader: prof. Dr. Hub Zwart 

Duration: 3 years 

ESPhil position: junior researchers 

The overall goal of the International Human Microbiome Coordination and Support Action (IHMCSA) is to keep Europe at the forefront of microbiome research. Planet Earth is a microbial planet, a web of life, and we ourselves are ecosystems, embedded in ecosystems. Microbes created the atmosphere; as recyclers they support the global metabolism, and nearly all metabolic processes were developed by them. Moreover, microbes not only dominate our external environment, but also our internal environment. They are our “forgotten organ”, affecting human health, mood and cognition. Thus, microbiome research challenges our anthropocentric self-image as autonomous beings. Rather than seeing ourselves as owners and masters of our own health and body, we should acknowledge the importance of, and consciously care for, our microbiome. 

Research claims to offer a plethora of tools for improving self-care and self-management and a range of medical decision support tools, but the evidence for self- management tools is often fragile. There is a need to bring scientific, clinical and life-world evidence into the landscape, distinguishing realistic scenarios from hype. Building on a reflection on epistemological, biomedical and ethical aspects of microbiome science, we consider appropriate strategies to promote uptake of microbiome insights by health professionals and citizens.  

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